About the piece

One of the most significant features of Liverpool is its two great Cathedrals, and Hope street which links them. “Songs of Stone” concerns itself with the journey from one cathedral to another via Hope Street, and comprises of three movements with texts set accordingly.

Movement 1 draws text from Psalm 127 and from the Anglican Dedication Festival. It is a soft and reflective movement, especially in comparison with the other two movements.

Movement 2 starts and ends with an Alto solo, surrounding the bustling and highly-rhythmic inner section, which reflects on the nature of Hope Street itself. The movement is set to a text by poet Ian McMillan, which in itself depicts a journey, making it perfect for the piece.

Movement 3 concludes the journey climactically, with a text taken from Laudes Regiae, which was originally used for the laying of the foundation stone at the site of the Metropolitan cathedral. It features several Soprano solos, accompanied by ‘bell-like’ clusters. Much of this movement’s melodic content is drawn from plainchant, notably within the Soprano solos.

There are two versions of this work – one for unaccompanied upper-voice (SA-divisi) choir, and one for SATB choir, string orchestra and percussion.

Libretto

Movement 1 (Psalms 122 and 127):

Unless the Lord builds the house,

those who build it labour in vain.

Unless the Lord watches over the city,

the watchman stays awake in vain.

I was glad when they said unto me,

Let us go into the house of the Lord.

Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is built as a city.

 

Movement 2 (Hope Street by Ian McMillan *):

Imagine an axis; imagine a washing line

Hung across a city. Cathedrals, a theatre

And a hotel hang from the line

And flap in the century’s breeze…

This is Hope Street; imagine an artery

Pumping life through a city, imagine

A walk from one end of Hope to the other end

Of Hope on a moonlit evening…

Yes, that’s right. You’re walking through Hope.

Imagine a street where the soul is brightened

And the coffee is the best you can get in a city

That loves to keep itself awake.

Hope Street. Aptly named. See you there.

 

Movement 3 (parts of Laudes Regiae):

Christus vincit! Christus regnat! Christus imperat!

Exaudi Christe ecclesiae santae Dei salus perpetua.

Redemptor mundi, tu illam adiuva.

Pax Christi veniat!

Regnum Christi veniat!

Deo gratias!

Amen.


* Text used with permission from the poet.

Sample Score

Sample recording snippet

Performed by Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Choir at the World Premiere (February 2018)

Upcoming Performances

Monday 5th November, 2018 – Royal Albert Hall, London
Music for Youth Proms
performed by Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Choir, conducted by the composer

Past Performances

Tuesday 3rd July, 2018 – CBSO Centre, Birmingham
Music for Youth National Festival (New Music Stage)
performed by Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Choir, conducted by the composer

Tuesday 8th February, 2018 – Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
Rushworth Young Composers (World Premiere)
performed by Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Choir, conducted by the composer