Magnificat for Cantus

Composed for Cantus Ensemble and Dominic Brennan, and performed and recorded in July 2017 as a finalist in their composition competition


Alleluia, I heard a voice
(words from the Bible)
Duration: 4′

“The choir and I enjoyed preparing and performing Alleluia I heard a voice’. Its up-beat style coupled with a sensitivity to the text means it sits as well in a summer concert of part-songs and spirituals as in Evensong”
Andrew Parnell

“Janet Wheeler directed the singers in two of her own pieces. “Alleluia I Heard a Voice” should surely find a place in contemporary choral repertoires both at home and in America. “Homage to Albright” was especially successful, mixing choral improvisation based on written out fragments with spatial separation of sections of the choir – a real surround-sound performance!”
David Parry-Smith

“Wonderful singing last night, with many gorgeous ‘early music’ Alleluias, but for SWEM, paradoxically, the highlight was Janet Wheeler’s very 21st century setting of ‘Alleluia I heard a Voice’. Marvellous and mesmerising.”
Donna Sharp – Saffron Walden Early Music

Notes: Alleluia, I heard a voice

This is a setting of Revelations 19, Verses 1 and 6 for unaccompanied mixed choir (SATB with some divided soprano). This biblical text is familiar from the well-known Renaissance setting by Thomas Weelkes. My setting begins with slow-moving contemplative music expanding from a unison C. The central part of the piece is more lively, sometimes syncopated, and is built around a series of ostinati, some of them in canon, in the lower and then middle voices. The ending returns to the opening music, converging on the unison C to finish.

Written in 2004, the piece has received many performances in the UK, France and Belgium by such choirs as QC Chamber Choir, the choir of Alleyn’s School, Dulwich, Saffron Walden Choral Society, Saffron Walden Singers and the Granta Chorale.

The St Albans-based choir Carillon performed it in Spring 2006, directed by Andrew Parnell.

Andrew says: “The choir and I enjoyed preparing and performing Alleluia, I heard a voice. Its up-beat style coupled with a sensitivity to the text means it sits as well in a summer concert of part-songs and spirituals as in Evensong.”

Reviewing a performance by SWCS in June 2011, David Parry-Smith says: Alleluia, I heard a voice should surely find a place in contemporary choral repertoires both at home and in America.

Text
Alleluia, I heard a voice as of strong thunderings saying: Alleluia. Salvation and glory and honour and power be unto the Lord our God. And to the Lamb for evermore.

Show Notes

O perfect Love
A wedding anthem for SATB or SAAB. Words by Dorothy B. Gurney
Duration: c 3 minutes


Magnificat cum Angelis
Commissioned by Yellow Car Charitable Trust.
Scoring: SATB choir (with some divisions), soprano soloist, trumpet, harp, percussion (2 players), organ, strings.
Duration c 50′

Notes: Magnificat cum Angelis

The work expands the standard text of the Magnificat with three additional angel texts. First comes the Angelus, a Latin prayer sequence including the Ave Maria, sung three times. The other additions are two texts from medieval mystery plays. The first looks ahead to Mary’s own death, where six angels come to lead her to heaven, and the second is Gabriel’s farewell as he departs after the annunciation. Janet Wheeler’s music for these has touches of medieval mysticism, helped by the use of handbells, organ and harp. The first and last movements of the Magnificat proper have the flavour of Jewish dance music.

JW: I pictured Mary after receiving Gabriel’s news. Despite the complications of her situation, I thought she’d be unable to stop herself from dancing for joy as she realises what is happening to her. I’ve added hand drums, tambourine and finger cymbals to the 7/8 dance music!

The Ecce Enim and Sicut locutus sections have a more scientific inspiration. “Where the text refers to succeeding generations, I’ve composed music influenced by the structure of DNA, with its double helix represented in spiralling lines for harp and organ and subtly shifting combinations of harmonies for voices and strings.”

Magnificat cum Angelis was commissioned by Yellow Car Charitable Trust

Show Notes

Listen to excerpts from the first performance…

Magnificat Anima Mea

Suscepit Israel


Preces and responses with Lord’s prayer


The Lord’s my shepherd
An arrangement of Crimond by Jessie Seymour Irvine for three-part choir (SA plus men) with organ or piano
Duration: 3′


Descants for the following hymns

1)    Be thou my Vision/Lord of all hopefulness (Slane)
 2)    Come down O Love Divine (Down Ampney)
3)    Love Divine (Blaenwern)
4)    O Worship the Lord in the Beauty of Holiness (Was Lebet, Was Schwebet)
5)    Praise to the Lord the almighty the King of Creation (Lobe des Herrn)
6)    The King of Love my shepherd is (Dominus Regit Me by Dykes)
7)    We plough the fields and scatter (tune by Schulz)


Carol of the poor children
(words by Richard Middleton)
SATB + piano
Duration 2’30”


The spirit of Christmas
(words by Martin Angel and Janet Wheeler)
SATB with optional children’s choir and piano
Duration 4′


A la media noche (At the hour of Midnight)
Arrangement of Puerto Rican carol of SATB + trebles choir + piano duet. Additional English words by the composer.
Duration: 4.5′


Listen to the angels
(A jazzy setting which incorporates Of the Father’s Heart Begotten)
SATB choir plus trebles and piano
Duration 3′


Sing we noel
A Christmas Processional
Duration: c 1’30”


Welcome yole
A Christmas Processional


Born is the Babe
Words traditional early 17th century
Carol for SATB (with some divided alto). The words make a strong link between Christmas and Easter

Duration 3’30”


To God the Giver of Grace
Composed back in 1987 for the choir of St Albans High School, this setting of an Egyptian Doxology from the third century is for upper voices and organ.
Duration: c. 2’30”


Te Deum
This lively and melodic setting composed in 1986 is for SSA and organ.
Duration: c.5′


Hinei ma tov
With Hebrew words from Psalm 133, this arrangement sequences two traditional Jewish tunes and elaborates them. It begins with a haunting round in up to four parts, leading to a more dance-like section for three voice parts. A song about living together in peace for mixed voices with piano and optional tambourine.
Duration: c. 3’30”