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Track(s) taken from CDA67909


First line:
Deep midwinter, the dark centre of the year
1995; commissioned by the Dean and Chapter of Winchester Cathedral and first performed by the cathedral choir under David Hill at Bishop Michael Scott-Joynt's Enthronement on 6 January 1996
author of text
inspired by Henry Vaughan's Ode to Night

Wells Cathedral Choir, Matthew Owens (conductor), Jonathan Vaughn (organ)
Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Studio Master:
Studio Master:
Recording details: June 2012
Wells Cathedral, United Kingdom
Produced by Jeremy Summerly
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: August 2013
Total duration: 3 minutes 54 seconds

Cover artwork: Cornfield by Moonlight (1830) by Samuel Palmer (1805-1881)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London

Other recordings available for download

St Paul's Cathedral Choir, John Scott (conductor), Huw Williams (organ)
Jesus College Choir Cambridge, Mark Williams (conductor), Robert Dixon (organ)


'This excellent disc from Wells Cathedral Choir looks back over 15 years of Bingham's choral works … there's a frankness to the Wells choral sound that suits music that has nothing precious or twee about it. It creates an underlying muscularity, even in the glowing cluster-chords of Cantate Domino and foregrounds the texts that Bingham sets with Britten-like care … this collection is the most representative yet of the composer's functional, liturgical works' (Gramophone)

'The setting of Cantate Domino memorably commingles an anxious, questing quality with glimpses of certitude and placidity, a balance sensitively struck in this assured Wells Cathedral Choir performance … Our faith is a light is a luminescent setting highlighting the bright, gleaming quality of tone the Wells top line is currently producing. The Hyperion recording is atmospheric and expertly balanced. Recommended' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Choral music is a sphere that welcomes the new. The Anglican (mainly) church is a leading source of new commissions for countless composers, among them Judith Bingham (b1952), who stands out not least because she spent her early career as a professional singer and knows the idiom. She favours rich, multilayered radiance, as heard in the two Wells service canticles—written for the excellent choir who perform here. Jonathan Vaughn provides spirited organ accompaniment and interludes. The lullaby setting of God be in my head, the abundant interpretation of Gerard Manley Hopkins's Harvest and the unexpectedness of the Bromley Missa brevis, written for an enlightened south London parish church, all play to Bingham's creative strengths' (The Observer)
Judith Bingham was born in Nottingham in 1952, entering the Royal Academy of Music in 1970 to study composition and singing. At the Academy her teachers were Alan Bush and Eric Fenby. She later undertook further vocal studies with Eric Vietheer and composition with Hans Keller, who exerted a strong influence upon her development. She won the BBC Young Composer Award in 1977. In the years following her graduation from the Royal Academy she pursued her singing career (notably with The BBC Singers between 1983 and 1996), as well as undertaking composition work. Much of her composition output began in the late 1980s. Her work includes Chartres (1988) for orchestra, Passagio—Bassoon Concerto (1998), The Shooting Star (a trumpet concerto, 1998–9), Prague (1991) and The Stars above, the Earth below (1991) for brass band. Since writing these pieces she has undertaken many important commissions and now has a substantial portfolio of works written for voices, including some for liturgical use. She is now one of the most sought-after contemporary British composers.

Epiphany was written in 1995 in response to a commission from the Dean and Chapter of Winchester Cathedral. The Cathedral Choir, conducted by David Hill, gave the first performance at the enthronement of the new bishop on 6 January 1996. The composer has kindly provided a note about her work for this recording:

Epiphany was written in 1995 for the enthronement of Bishop Michael in Winchester Cathedral. The brief of the commission was to write a short anthem that would link prayers with the actual enthronement, but still be about Epiphany with all its connotations of a journey and a new ministry. In my mind the shape of the piece formed as a gradual crescendo starting from the silent prayerful atmosphere of a full cathedral to the solemn grandeur of the bishop’s ascension. Searching around for a suitable text, I happened upon Ode to Night by George Herbert, and was powerfully struck by the line ‘There is in God, some say, / A deep but dazzling darkness’. I decided to write a poem myself that would integrate this line, while placing the journey of the Magi in an English winter landscape. The star in their hearts leads them, full of doubt and fear, to the deepest darkest heart of winter, where they encounter the dazzling atavistic force of God. The final rising organ roulade is the new life, buried yet growing in the hard earth.

from notes by William McVicker © 2002

Other albums featuring this work

Epiphany at St Paul's
Journey into light
Studio Master: SIGCD269Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
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