for mixed choir (SSATB) a cappella
Text: English with Latin refrain (trad, 15th century)
Blessed be that Maid Marie was premiered and recorded by the BBC Singers at St Giles’ Cripplegate, London on 29 November 2012. The piece received a BBC Radio 3 broadcast on 18 December 2012.
This work is essentially a traditional strophic carol. Yet whilst the choruses remain unchanged, thereby grounding the whole piece, there are subtle melodic variants in each successive verse that give the work its jaunty character. The initial 4/4 march-like melody slowly evolves into a graceful 12/8 dance, and each chorus interrupts the flow with a cymbal-like clash. In the final verse, the altos, tenors and basses provide an unvarying drum beat that underpins the soprano melody and descant. The work concludes with the chorus being sung twice, the second instance being a proclamation that “On this day, Jesus is born of the Virgin”.
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.