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From the very earliest days of their formation in 2009 Harmonia Sacra has been strongly committed to the performance of new choral works and the support of both established and emerging choral composers. Almost every one of the choir's concerts has included contemporary works, with names such as John Tavener, Arvo Pärt, Eric Whitacre, James Macmillan and David Bednall featuring prominently. Every year, on Advent Sunday, in the ethereal acoustics of the church of St Thomas the Martyr, Bristol, the choir performs a very popular Advent Reflections evening concert, the programmes of which typically comprise appropriate seasonal choral music, as well as world premieres of new contemporary choral works. The long-term relationship which the choir has forged with Lawrence Whitehead, in particular, has produced three works which, together with the majority of items on this CD, are recorded here for the first time. These have been juxtaposed with new works by Robert Hugill, Jonathan Lee, David Bednall and Peter Leech, many of which are set to texts which deal with the subjects of heavenly light and remembrance, hence the title of the CD. The choir is extremely grateful to Adrian Farmer for providing the inspiration for this project, which is dedicated to the memory of the very fine organist and composer Christopher Manners LRAM, who died suddenly in 2013.

Lux Memoriaque Track Listing

  1. Christe redemptor, omnium                                                                                                                                  Lawrence Whitehead
  2. Veni, Sancte Spiritus                                                                                                                                            Lawrence Whitehead
  3. Populus Sion                                                                                                                                                                     Robert Hugill

  4. In Flanders Fields                                                                                                                                                               Peter Leech
  5. We will remember them - Per mare, per terram                                                                                                                 Peter Leech
  6. Do not stand beside my grave and weep                                                                                                                           Peter Leech   7. Pater superni luminis                                                                                                                                                       David Bednall
  8. Creator alme siderum                                                                                                                                           Lawrence Whitehead
  9. Sicut Cervus                                                                                                                                                                       Peter Leech

10. Dormi Jesu                                                                                                                                                                         Peter Leech

11. Set me as a seal                                                                                                                                                                 Peter Leech
12. Meditation for Holy Week                                                                                                                                                 Jonathan Lee



Our first review of #Luxmemoriaque from Sonograma Magazine, translated by Tiago Manuel da Hora 

The English vocal ensemble Harmonia Sacra was founded in 2009. They took a step forward in their commitment to contemporary music. Their repertoire includes music by John Tavener, ArvoPärt, Eric Whitacre, James MacMillan and David Bednall. Lux Memoriaque, released by the Nimbus label, is the result of an enriching relationship established between this choir and Lawrence Whitehead. In this recording we can listen to the works of Whitehead juxtaposed with others by Robert Hugill, Jonathan Lee, David Bednall and Peter Leech, who is also the director of this vocal ensemble. 

It is important to emphasize that this record is dedicated to the memory of organist and composer Christopher Manners (LRAM), who died suddenly in 2013. As a director, Peter Leech (who has Australian-British nationality) has achieved international recognition since he was awarded the First Prize of the Mariele Ventre International Competition, and as a composer he has premiered several vocal works. It is notable to mention that his Requiem was commissioned by the Collegium Singers in 2011.

A great many of the pieces in this disc are world premiere recordings. With interlaced routes, the composers in the program share various points in common. Peter Leech has assembled pieces he considers to be of religious and spiritual interest, and in addition included works of many other composers who are, in one way or another, in the same artistic orbit and worlds away from triviality and lightness.

The music flows freely without the need to show anything more than itself. The performances of Harmonia Sacra correspond to the sound specificities and requirements of the works, with abundant effective nuances. Peter Leech has managed to portray many different sound worlds (ranging from unison melodies to dissonant harmonies with gently resolved cadences), sometimes at a certain poignant moment, at other times during continuous passages. This is a delightful soul-filled recording with luminosity, whose sacred texts are set to a warm and calming music.

Author Marçal Borotau  @m_borotau @sonogramaMGZN

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