Sea Roar and Song Break, 2021
Soundscape mp3 file – choral, spoken voice, synthesised music and ambient noise
This is a collaborative composition, featuring the collective voices of Saint Andrews Episcopal church choir, St Andrews, Fife, scaffolded by a new Anglican chant setting of Psalm 98. The SATB mix of the psalm was prepared first as a virtual choir. The choir were then given 2 audio prompts and asked to use their phones to record short responses. The first audio prompt, sent out at the end of Epiphany, was a soundscape quoting Revelations 4 and asking everyone to remember a moment where they had an intimation of divine presence breaking through in music. The second audio prompt, circulated on Ash Wednesday, quoted from Job 4 and Psalm 39 on the theme of penitential silence; the choir were asked to listen quietly in the following stillness to the sounds they heard from the created world. The choir director listened to the submissions for connections and conversations and wove these around the verses of Psalm 98. What emerges is a record of our worshiping-in-sound: a time-delayed in-breaking of thoughts, words and music from our various places of COVID19 isolation. You can read more about the process behind this piece here.
The photograph supplied is the stained glass window of Christ the King surrounded by heavenly musicians from the east end of Saint Andrews church. Photo credit Bea Cowan.
Jane Pettegree has a research background in English Renaissance drama, a parallel past life as a professional singer specialising in early and contemporary music, and is an Associate Lecturer in music history and ethnomusicology at the University of St Andrews Music Centre. She was appointed choir director at Saint Andrews Episcopal Church in September 2020 in the middle of the COVID19 pandemic, having sung with this group for some years. This year’s music-making has been isolated and asynchronous; in the current lock-down circumstances, basic software editing has taken the place of real-time choral conducting.