CD recorded by the Senior Girl Choristers in July 2018
Featuring the Cavaillé-Coll organ of St. Ouen, Rouen
Available now from the Abbey gift stall
Colin Walsh – Organ
George Richford – Director of Music
Versets on Ave Maris Stella (Vespers of the Virgin, Op. 18) – Marcel Dupré
Pie Jesu – Lili Boulanger
Rorate coeli (No 3 from 12 Choral Preludes on Gregorian Chant Themes) – Jeanne Demessieux
Attende Domine (No 1 from 12 Choral Preludes on Gregorian Chant Themes, Op 8) – Jeanne Demessieux
Litanies à la Vierge noire de Rocamadour – Francis Poulenc
This varied disc of music for upper voices and organ brings together varied sacred works by four French composers. Marcel Dupré was a prolific recialist whose father was organist at St. Ouen. His Versets alternate vocal antiphons with organ solos that show off the varied tonal palette of the instrument. The Litanies by Francis Poulenc are a work of prayer and grieving for a friend who died in a road accident; they marked Poulenc’s return to the Catholic faith.
Lili Boulanger’s Pie Jesu was initially conceived as the Kyrie eleison from a Requiem mass. Sadly, she died at the age of 25 and could not complete the intended full-scale work. This emotive piece deserves to be better known. Jeanne Demessieux was an organ pupil of Dupré who became a leading recitalist and memorised over 2,500 works. She left a rich legacy of recordings and compositions that includes the two Chorale Preludes on Gregorian Chant themes, from a set of 12, featured on this recording.
St Ouen, Rouen, was begun in 1318. It is one of the largest churches in France and, like Romsey Abbey, traces its origins to the Benedictine monastic order. Its organ is one of the finest in the world.
About the artists
Colin Walsh’s association with cathedral music goes back over forty years. He has served, in various capacities, St George’s Chapel Windsor Castle, Christ Church Oxford (where he worked closely with Simon Preston and studied the organ with Nicholas Danby), Salisbury Cathedral, and St Albans Cathedral. He went to Lincoln Cathedral in 1988 as Organist and Master of the Choristers, becoming Organist Laureate in 2003.
As an organ recitalist he has played in all the major venues in the UK, most European countries, the USA, Australasia, Hong Kong and Russia. His recordings on CD and DVD as a choral conductor, accompanist and soloist number nearly forty over many years.
George Richford is a multi award-winning composer and conductor based in the South of England. He grew up in Bromley, South London, and went up to Durham University in 2004, where he was Director of Music at St John’s College Chapel for seven years. He has held Directorship positions at Newcastle Cathedral, Newark Parish Church, Southampton University, and Romsey Abbey, and is in demand as a choral conductor and young voices specialist.
The senior girl choristers at Romsey Abbey could be said to trace their ancestry to the nuns who followed the Rule of Saint Benedict from the time of its foundation; we are celebrating the Abbey’s 900th anniversary in 2020. As you will hear in this recording, they demonstrate outstanding musicality and purity of tone.
New Abbey choristers wanted
Most of the girls who took part in this recording have now left the Romsey area to continue their studies at university. You might know a girl who would like to join the choir and sing regularly in the Abbey and elsewhere.