for mixed choir (SATTB) a cappella
Text: English (William Wordsworth)
The Minstrels was commissioned and performed by the BBC Singers in their Winter Solstice concert at St Paul's Church, Knightsbridge, London on 21 December 2016, which was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. This lively non-religious carol, a setting of the opening verses of the William Wordsworth poem of the same name, paints vivid images of jocular minstrels and their followers, completed with cittern effects in the bass part. The clever interplay between the vocal parts and opportunities for fun wordplay make this an exciting and rewarding sing, and a very engaging piece for an audience.
"The composer creates an effective vocal rendition of the 'scraped chords' played by the minstrels, and conveys the jocular spirit of the text in a direct and attractive manner throughout."
Choir and Organ
The Minstrels played their Christmas tune
To-night beneath my cottage-eaves;
While, smitten by a lofty moon,
The encircling laurels, thick with leaves,
Gave back a rich and dazzling sheen,
That overpowered their natural green.
Through hill and valley every breeze
Had sunk to rest with folded wings:
Keen was the air, but could not freeze,
Nor check, the music of the strings;
So stout and hardy were the band
That scraped the chords with strenuous hand!
And who but listened? – till was paid
Respect to every Inmate’s claim:
The greeting given, the music played
In honour of each household name,
Duly pronounced with lusty call,
And “Merry Christmas” wished to all.
Welsh composer Gareth Treseder has written numerous sacred compositions alongside his work as a London-based tenor for the Monteverdi Choir, BBC Singers, RSVP Voices, and St Margaret’s Church Westminster Abbey. Recent premieres include A Safe Stronghold, a co-commission alongside Lars Schwarze for London’s Temple Church Choir to commemorate the outbreak of World War One, and a liturgical premiere of Never weather-beaten sail performed by the choir of St Paul’s Church K Street in Washington DC. In May 2015, a set of songs based on texts by Joseph Addison for voice and piano entitled Hope: An Addison Cycle was premiered by Eleanor Minney and Michael Waldron. He has also written two arias for a new Little Rooms Productions opera: Arcana Part 2, which was premiered in Bristol Bierkeller Theatre in the same month.