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Sample Pagesfor mixed choir (SATTB) a cappella
Text: English (William Wordsworth)
Duration: 2'00''
Difficulty: 4/5
Use: Christmas

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.

William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

Gareth Treseder
Welsh tenor and composer Gareth Treseder studied at the University of Bristol and Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. He has since been made an Honorary Associate of the RWCMD in recognition of his musical achievements. Alongside his singing career performing with the Monteverdi Choir, BBC Singers, Sonoro and St Margaret’s Westminster Abbey Choir, Gareth composes chiefly sacred choral works, several of which have been published by Boosey & Hawkes. The 2019 Three Choirs Festival saw the world premiere of his choral and orchestral setting of Ivor Gurney’s The Songs I Had. Temple Church Choir’s commission in the same year, Come, let us return to the Lord, was subsequently performed as part of their Ash Wednesday Choral Evensong broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 in 2020. Gareth’s Notre Père setting, written especially for St Margaret’s Westminster Abbey Choir, received its premiere the following week. Upcoming commissions include Jesu, joy of man’s desiring for Sonoro’s Choral Inspirations 2 project in 2021 and Righteousness and Equity for Temple Church Choir.

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