After my voice broke and I stopped singing in chapel services at Addington Palace (the then headquarters of the Royal School of Church Music), I let go of my interest in Anglican church music. Neither organ playing nor singing were studies I wished to take up. But I retained, “locked in a cupboard” somewhere in my mind, a memory of that whole repertoire. And sometimes it is reflected in my music. The culture of the chapel was largely a safe, ordered and disciplined world. And one shouldn’t forget that the Anglican Church is one of the few areas of our musical life where there is a genuine interest in new music. (I remember the excitement when Derek Holman wrote a piece for us).
Over the years since, I have probably failed to point out how much I owe to the chapel training (which included piano and composition lessons). And it was all given gratis – no small thing, as my family could not have afforded any of it.
It is decades since I listened to this music. Here are some of the composers I loved as a child:-
Thomas Attwood, Edward Bairstow, Benjamin Britten, William Byrd, William Croft, Harold Darke, George Dyson, Orlando Gibbons, John Goss, Maurice Greene, George Frideric Handel, William H. Harris, Pelham Humfrey, E. J. Moeran, Thomas Morley, Frederick Ouseley, Henry Purcell, Charles Villiers Stanford, Herbert Sumsion, Thomas Tallis, Thomas Tomkins, Christopher Tye, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Thomas Attwood Walmisley, William Walton, Thomas Weelkes, Samuel Sebastian Wesley, Charles Wood.
John Marbeck I didn’t like. And psalm singing was always a bore – I doubt they have abandoned that ugly tradition. The Roman Catholic method of psalm singing however was PERFECT, and that HAS been abandoned (after Vatican II). Such are the ironies of…….
Incidentally, my first (failed) attempt at composition was of a psalm chant – I threw it away.