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Nine Lessons & Carols: King's College Cambridge
Bach, J S:
In dulci jubilo
Now comes the dawn
Once in Royal David's city
A tender shoot has started
Hark! the herald angels sing
Mary ('The night when she first gave birth')
Adam lay y-bounden
Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen
arr. Jan Sandström
Wiegenlied, Op. 79d, 1
All bells in paradise
arr. Vaughan Williams
In Dulci Jubilo
arr. Robert Lucas de Pearsall
A Virgin most pure
arr. Stephen Cleobury
arr. Philip Ledger
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
The Holly and the Ivy
arr. June Nixon
While Shepherds Watched
Ding dong! merrily on high
arr. Mack Wilberg
If ye would hear the angels sing
Hymne à la Vierge, Op. 24
O come, all ye faithful
With a TV and radio audience of millions, the annual broadcast of carols from King’s College, Cambridge is an essential Christmas tradition for families all over the world. The debut album from the choir’s own label features a specially recorded performance of their glorious 'Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols', and includes many of the most well-known Christmas carols as well as new commissions from some of today’s most popular composers.
The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge is one of the world’s foremost choirs and unquestionably among the most widely heard. It owes its existence to King Henry VI, who envisaged the daily singing of services in his magnificent chapel. This remains the Choir’s raison d’être, and is an important part of the lives of its 16 choristers, who are educated at King’s College School, and the 14 choral scholars and two organ scholars, who study a variety of subjects in the College. The Choir has been a breeding ground for numerous professional singers, many of whom will appear on forthcoming recordings from the new label.
The Choir has a rich recording heritage, having appeared on many albums for both Decca and EMI Classics. The Choir’s recording of Rutter’s 'Gloria' has sold in excess of 100,000 units globally and its previous albums of Christmas music have sold in millions.
This double album faithfully recreates the magic of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, opening with a lone treble singing 'Once in royal David’s city' and closing with a rousing chorus of 'Hark! the herald angels sing'. Each year, the Choir’s Director of Music Stephen Cleobury commissions a new carol, several of which are included on the album, including carols by Einojuhani Rautavaara, Gabriel Jackson, Brett Dean, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Dominic Muldowney and Tansy Davies. In addition, John Rutter was commissioned to write the new carol 'All bells in paradise' especially for this album.
“Perhaps the lower voices aren't quite as smoothly blended here as they usually are at King's, but generally the level of achievement reached in these live performances is enviable.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2012 ****
“The recording is full and warm, unmistakably that of King’s College Chapel. If anything is to melt my inner-Scrooge and promote a festive atmosphere, this two-disc release is probably it.” International Record Review, December 2012
“[All bells in paradise is] vintage Rutter: an instantly likable melody supported by comforting mulled wine and mince pie harmony. It's sure to be a favourite with choirs up and down the country for many Christmases to come.” The Observer, 28th October 2012
“The service’s format appears set in stone, but Stephen Cleobury, the college’s long-serving director of music, isn’t resolutely stuck in the past. Not every newly commissioned carol lifts the spirit, but Dominic Muldowney’s Mary is eloquent; so, in its melodious way, is John Rutter’s new offering” The Times, 14th December 2012 ***
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A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
Genesis 3: God tells sinful Adam that he has lost the life serpent’s head.
Genesis 22: God promises to faithful Abraham that in his seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.
Isaiah 9: The prophet foretells the coming of the Saviour.
Isaiah 11: The peace that Christ will bring is foreshown.
Luke 1: The angel Gabriel salutes the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Luke 2: St Luke tells of the birth of Jesus.
Luke 2: The shepherds go to the manger.
Matthew 2: The wise men are led by the star to Jesus.
John 1: St John unfolds the great mystery of the Incarnation.
The 2008 Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, recorded live by BBC Radio 3 in "the magnificent recording studio that is King’s College Chapel.” The service marked the 80th anniversary of its first BBC broadcast and the start of a year-long celebration of the 800th anniversary of Cambridge University.
“…what's specially striking is the intimacy of these performances, the choir under Stephen Cleobury excelling in the difficult art of dynamic restraint and truly gentle singing. Vaughan Williams's 'Wither's Rocking Hymn' is a fine example, and includes some lovely solos.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2009 *****
“Judith Weir’s thrilling Illuminare Jerusalem is the most welcome novelty here, virtuosically sung.” Sunday Times, 20th December 2009 ***
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