The Edington Festival of Music within the Liturgy
Sunday 23 August to Sunday 30 August 2015
It is hard to think that one might try to top last summer’s festival bringing with it as it did the dedication of the new Harrison & Harrison organ, but this summer will be the sixtieth occasion on which singers have gathered in the priory church as part of what we now know as the festival.
The theme of this year’s festival is ‘Praise’. Based on a cycle of organ pieces by Jean-Louis Florentz entitled Laudes, the seven movements provide the structure for the week: A call to prayer, Incantation, Sacred dance, Meditation, Sacred song, Procession and Hymn. This, the 60th festival, offers the opportunity to look back at previous festivals, and we include some previous commissions: the Edington Service by Grayston Ives, the Preces and Responses by Philip Radcliffe and David Buckley, and Elena Vorotko’s setting of Sancte Pater Benedicte. Two new works have been commissioned for this year: Magnificat (based on the 8th tone) by David Briggs will be written for all three choirs and organ, and Marco Galvani is setting Tantum ergo for the Consort to sing during the BBC broadcast on Wednesday 26 August. Wednesday will also see a return to the popular Musical Evening format of years gone by and we hope many of you will wish to join us for a delicious and entertaining evening which does much to raise funds for causes around the village.
There are some new faces at the festival and we are lucky to have Simon Bell (Formerly Assistant Organist of Winchester Cathedral, now Director, Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum) join us as Festival Organist. He and his fellow organists present at the festival will continue the pattern set last year and play before each of the evening services, but it is worth noting that these moments should not be viewed as a concert but rather music before the service during which time people can come and go as before any other service!
In this Diamond Anniversary festival there are some elements that are a departure from the ordinary course of the week, but fewer in number perhaps than last year as we try to return to the usual round of worship. We are extremely lucky to have a public relations and promotional guru among our number in the form of Anne Curtis: she has worked tirelessly to produce an exhibition of pictures and brief biographies of 60 notable members of the festival drawn from the past 60 years. Further details will be available in the Companion which will, as ever, be available for purchase from the beginning of August. I hope you will enjoy it.
Festival Day has traditionally been marked on the Saturday of the week as it allows the greatest number of our supporters to be present. We will be marking the Diamond Jubilee after morning service in the now-traditional way in the churchyard at which point a few words will be said. Following the success of the Friends’ most generous invitation to attendees of the festival to join them for lunch on the Saturday of the week, we are repeating this experiment. The Friends of the Priory Church will hold their AGM as usual, but have most kindly extended an invitation to those of us who are still not yet (please note even more italics than last year!) members of that body to join them for a celebratory lunch at 1.30pm in the marquee in the Parish Field at the west end of the churchyard. Tickets for this two course lunch cost £15, to include a glass of wine or soft drink. Please apply before 17 August, by sending a stamped addressed envelope together with your cheque made payable to The Friends of Edington Priory Church, to Susie Hancock, Dunge Farm, West Ashton, Trowbridge, BA14 6AX. Tickets will not be available on the day and parking will be controlled in the usual manner for those with both a Disabled Blue Badge and a Festival Parking Pass that has been obtained from Mrs Joanna Robertson (for details, see the leaflet).
Following the Friends’ AGM, the Friends’ Talk, open to all at no cost, will be given in the priory church by Andrew Carwood, Director of Music at St Paul’s Cathedral and formerly Director of the Edington Festival. He will talk about the history of the festival and its importance to the world of church music; he will doubtless also throw in the odd anecdote that should not be missed. There can be little better indication of why it is such a good idea to join the Friends of the Priory Church which has, since its inception in 1956, done so much to preserve and improve the fabric of our most beautiful building.
Of course, the importance of this festival lies principally in the daily round of worship and music making that gives us the opportunity to pause a while and reflect on the gifts from which we all benefit. This year we will be treated to some of the most beautiful of church music including hearing Mass settings by Lassus, Sheppard and Poulenc, and a range of anthems and canticles spanning some six centuries. Other substantial choral works included in the festival are Parry’s Blest Pair of Sirens, Walton’s Coronation Te Deum and Haydn’s Missa Sancte Nicolai.
Most of you will by now have learnt the tragic news that David Trendell died suddenly and in his sleep having suffered a brain haemorrhage last October. A deeper blow to our musical community is hard to imagine for David was the driving force in the renaissance of the festival first as singer, then as its Director and finally as the Director of the Nave Choir. His great good humour, insistence on the highest standards and care for his musical charges were a potent combination and he will be greatly missed. We will be holding a Requiem Mass on the Friday of the week at which prayers can be offered for David and all others of our friends whom we see no more. The choice of music for this service, a liturgical performance of Duarte Lôbo’s Requiem and Alonso Lobo’s Versa est in luctum, will be almost unbearable.
The festival has evolved over the past sixty years into a corner-stone of the church music world and has nurtured many of the country’s finest musicians and priests, but its role and purpose remains unchanged. We hope you will join us to continue the worship which we offer as the central part of this very special festival.