Nonsuch Singers

Another Christmas-themed visit, this time to St James’ Church Piccadilly to hear the Nonsuch Singers under their charismatic conductor Tom Bullard. This elegant-sounding amateur choir expertly rose to the challenge of delivering a full programme of unfamiliar English ‘art song’ carols, punctuated by a few old favourites which were rejuvenated in this context. Placed at the end of more complicated fare, even ‘Away in a Manger’ sounded intriguing. Following the bold example of King’s College, Nonsuch premiered a genuinely progressive carol composition, by Edward Nesbit, whose ear-catching sequences of parallel intervals seemed to yield difference tones; a pioneering example of Yuletide spectralism.

The inclusion of my carol My Guardian Angel, which sets William Blake’s simple lines beginning ‘The Angel that presided o’er my birth’ had great significance for me in this venue, the church where Blake himself was christened. What a wonderful coincidence, during this music, to find myself sitting feet away from the very font (pictured) where this event must have taken place !

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JUDITH WEIR

Composer