for mixed choir (SSATBB) a cappella
Text: English (Timothy Dudley-Smith)
A Song Was Heard at Christmas was written for Gorseinon Youth Choir and premiered at Swansea’s Brangwyn Hall on Friday 18th December 2009. The piece was recorded by the BBC Singers in St Giles’ Cripplegate, London on Thursday 17th November 2011. It was broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Carols for Breakfast on Monday 19th December 2011.
The work opens with a soprano solo that reminds us of a lone treble performing the first verse of a congregational carol, with the choir providing traditional four-part harmony in the second verse. The third verse combines an element of sixteenth/seventeenth-century fauxbourdon – the melody is sung by the tenor – with a decorative, wordless descant provided by both soprano and alto. The final verse opens with the sopranos proclaiming “A child is born!” This sentiment is repeated by each voice in a choral celebration, interwoven with threads of the original melody, until the work reaches a triumphant conclusion with the whole choir praising the Saviour, Christ the Lord.
Welsh composer Gareth Treseder has written numerous sacred compositions alongside his work as a London-based tenor for the Monteverdi Choir, BBC Singers, and St Margaret’s Church Westminster Abbey. His Mass in G won Clifton Cathedral’s CASSOC Composition Competition in March 2005. The Lay Clerks of Bristol Cathedral Choir, with whom he sang for four years, premiered The Strife Is O’er shortly afterwards. A Song Was Heard at Christmas, premiered by Gorseinon Youth Choir in 2009, was recorded by the BBC Singers for BBC Radio 3’s ‘Carols for Breakfast’ in 2011. The following Christmas, they premiered and recorded Blessed be that Maid Marie for another BBC Radio 3 broadcast. Since June 2012, Gareth has been the composer in residence for Bristol’s Redland Green Community Chorus. Upcoming premieres include Sweet Spirit, Comfort Me in London’s Wigmore Hall by Berkshire Youth Choir, and Salve Regina by St Helena’s Cathedral Choir in Montana.