The chapel choir of University College Oxford, conducted by Giles Underwood, sang Sarah’s Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in evensong on Sunday. The setting was originally written for the upper voices of Fitzwilliam College Cambridge and later adapted for mixed choir; this was its Oxford premiere.
Sarah’s piece Dream Fever for bass viol and electronics was named joint winner of the National Centre for Early Music’s Young Composers Award 2019, alongside Derri Joseph Lewis’s piece Walls Of Brass. The two pieces will both be performed again by virtuoso viol player Liam Byrne on October 12th at Glitch in Bristol. The performance will be recorded for broadcast on Radio 3’s Early Music Show.
Sarah is thrilled to have been commissioned to write a set of responses for the 2019 London Festival of Contemporary Church Music. Her St Pancras Responses will be premiered live on Radio 3 in Choral Evensong from St Pancras in a service of all-new music on 15th May.
The challenge for this year’s National Centre for Early Music Young Composers Award was to write a fantasy for bass viol and electronics to be played by virtuoso viol player Liam Byrne. Sarah’s piece Dream Fever has been shortlisted and will be workshopped and performed on 8th and 9th May in York. The music aims to portray the feeling of drifting into and suddenly waking out of a feverish hallucinatory dream. Sarah is very excited to be returning to the award after her The Basilica Remembers A Maestro was shortlisted last year.
Caritas Chamber Choir have released their second album, which includes three pieces by Sarah, written during her time as their Composer of the Year 2017-2018: Ave Maria, Dance the Seven Seas and Haec Dies. Her prize-winning piece The Pardoner’s Song featured on their previous disc, A Caritas Collection 2017.
Goodnight Soldiers is the result of a collaboration with poet Moyra Tourlamain, who wrote the words for Sarah to set to music especially for the armistice commemorations in Great Chesterford. The piece calls for children’s choir, trumpet and piano and moves from a march to a lullaby. The choir of Great Chesterford Primary Academy, led by Kathryn Middleton, with Sarah at the piano and Tristan Harkcom on the trumpet, gave the first performance in a packed village church on 10th November. The concert also featured the Wimbish Military Wives Choir, a pop-up community choir run by Sarah, and readings from the canon of war poetry.
Caritas Chamber Choir commissioned Dance The Seven Seas as part of their Sea Scape programme which they performed in concerts supporting the RNLI, first in Ramsgate on 29th September and then the next day in Walmer. Sarah wrote the words as well as the music, exploring the colours, flavours and sounds of the sea.
Ripon Cathedral held a New Music Week in May, during which they celebrated church music written in the last fifty years. Sarah’s Prayer of Richard Rolle opened the week’s focus on new music, being sung by the choir, as part of the sermon in the Sung Eucharist on Sunday 13th May.
Newnham College held an event on 5th May to celebrate the rediscovery of a lost portrait of Hubert Parry which had been found in the attics. Sarah was asked to write a short chamber piece to form part of the concert. Her piano trio To See The Light Of Day: Music For The Rediscovery Of A Portrait quotes Parry’s song You’ll Get There, a setting of words by the Trent Otter (the pseudonym of J.W. Martin, who wrote for The Fishing Gazette). Millicent Fawcett – Parry’s close friend and one of the founders of Newnham College – quotes the second verse of the poem in her book The Women’s Victory and After, so the song provided a musical link between Parry and the college. The piece was premiered by Sophia Ramnarine (cello) and Susanna Alsey (violin) with Sarah at the piano, and together they also played the second movement of Parry’s own Piano Trio in B minor. Voices of Newnham sang You’ll Get There before the premiere.
Sarah had discovered the song in this BBC Radio 3 clip, presented by David Owen Norris, who very kindly provided Newnham with the sheet music for You’ll Get There.
Sarah wrote The Basilica Remembers A Maestro for sackbuts and cornetts as an entry for the National Centre for Early Music Young Composers Award 2018 and is delighted that it has been shortlisted. The brief was to write a piece for the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble, taking inspiration from Venice; Sarah’s piece is influenced by Venetian polychoral style, Renaissance ornamentation and Monteverdi’s use of dance rhythms. The shortlisted works will be presented in a workshop led by composer Christopher Fox in York on 10th May, before a public concert that evening in front of the judges.