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When commissioning I have always encouraged composers to consider using a different instrument with the choir—either in place of the organ or in addition to it. Long’s exhilarating trumpet writing creates a pleasing parallel with the Trompeta Real part which Michael Tippett wrote in his own commission for the College’s 450th anniversary.
The eagle is a traditional symbol for St John the Evangelist, the College’s patron saint. Hence Long’s choice of text from Isaiah 40, a Biblical chapter which has been much used by composers, not least by Handel in Messiah. The work employs a wide range of characters and textures, from the arresting opening to a passage marked 'fragile' in the score, 'Even the youths shall faint'. As a means of generating material, the composer used a number of musical cyphers in the piece, spelling out words like 'College' and 'Eagles' in the trumpet part—though the listener is not expected to detect these!
from notes by Andrew Nethsingha © 2021