This Sunday is Advent Sunday, a day which marks an important step in my composing. As I wrote back in the summer, I wrote my setting of Rowan Williams‘ poem ‘Advent Calendar’ in 2006. Two years later, on Advent Sunday 2008, it was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 by the Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge as part of their annual Service for Advent with Carols. It was wonderful to hear the piece sung by such a renowned choir and it spurred me on to write more.
Last December, Advent Calendar was sung by another Cambridge choir, from Magdalene College, where Rowan Williams is currently Master. I was lucky enough to meet him after the concert, when he called it ‘a wonderful setting’ and, of all the musical settings out there, the closest in feeling to his original poem. I asked if I might set others of his poems, and he kindly agreed. I already had two particular poems in mind: ‘Our Lady of Vladimir’ and ‘Rublev’, both of which respond to two famous Russian icons.
You can listen to MIDI files of both pieces on my SoundCloud page. Here’s hoping next year both can be sung by real voices. And if, in the meantime, you’d like a free PDF score of either piece, please just let me know.