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The Blues Servicefor mixed voices (SATB) & organ
Text: English (Book of Common Prayer)
Duration: 8 minutes
Difficulty: 3/5
Use: General, Evensong

New settings of the two evening canticles which incorporate jazz elements, including harmony in voice parts and organ and many ‘blue’ notes. Despite these jazz elements, the music is very approachable, with natural syncopation and mostly homophonic writing. It is also available for upper or lower unison voices, with occasional optional divisi. Either version would be enjoyable and rewarding additions to a church choir’s modern liturgical repertoire, or indeed concert repertoire of all choirs. Also available for unison voices.

Composer's note
This setting of the canticles was written in March 2012. It is subtitled The ‘Blues’ Service owing to the strong jazz element in the music. There is extensive use of jazz harmony, and many ‘blue’ notes in the melodic line. Any portamento/glissando lines should be sung expressively, as a jazz or gospel singer might. The Magnificat is predominantly positive and relaxed in mood, with an active and dramatic middle section. Unusually, the setting of the Nunc dimittis is downbeat and bluesy, re-interpreting the text in a modern light. The ideal of a peaceful and glorious Israel seems unachievable and disillusioned. After a sombre opening, the music builds to an angry climax, eventually collapsing into shocked murmurs.

"The moods of the Magnificat follow a coherent pattern... and this is where the piece's strength lies; the innovation lies in Farrington's ability to adapt a jazz-infused style to the liturgy. With a great degree of success, Farrington creates a bluesy soundworld that appropriately amplifies the celebrated text of the Magnificat, and it does so without any degree of self-consciousness or irreverence. Indeed, it shows itself to be closely connected to the 20th-century liturgical canon – Howells, Leighton and Kelly are all precursors to Farrington's crossover work." (Jeremy Summerly, Choir & Organ, Nov 2015)

Iain Farrington
Iain Farrington has an exceptionally busy and diverse career as a pianist, organist, composer and arranger. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music, London and at Cambridge University. Iain has performed at all the major UK venues as well as internationally, and played the piano at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics with Rowan Atkinson, the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle.

As a composer, Iain has written orchestral, chamber, instrumental, vocal and choral works. He composed two orchestral works for the Wallace and Gromit Prom in 2012 including Wing It, a jazz guide to the orchestra. His organ suites Fiesta and Animal Parade have both been performed and recorded worldwide, and his choral work The Burning Heavens was nominated for a British Composer Award. Iain has composed and arranged numerous works for choir, and has given many concerts with such choral groups as the BBC Singers and the London Philharmonic Choir.

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