All the tracks mentioned below are avaible to listen to on our Soundcloud playlist 'Paul's 20th Anniversary Desert Island Discs' https://soundcloud.com/eborsingers/sets/pauls-20th-anniversary
The earliest concert that really stands out in my memory was a York Early Music Festival concert in 1999 in St Mary’s Church, Bishophill, a programme of Charpentier music for Holy Week, and we finished with a emotionally-charged performance of Charpentier's Le Reniement de St Pierre off copy. Here's the final chorus of Le Reniement de St Pierre, on our first (and now no longer available) CD Desolata est (2001).
Most recently, another concert in the Chapter House in March 2014, our Into Darkness programme was spine-tingling; particularly in the second half as the building descended from natural light, to candle-light, to total darkness – I’ll never forget Guy Tudor’s perfectly-timed extinguishing of candles during Chris O’Gorman’s beautiful performance of Ivor Gurney’s Sleep! Here's John Wilbye's madrigal Come sable night, whose almost reverential polyphony worked well in the Chapter House's acoustic.
We’ve regularly performed certain set programmes that are audience and choir favourites, and each performance has something quite unique about it. Particularly our Siege of York sequence; its 1997 YEMF debut (and if you haven’t caught a Channel 4 short documentary, available on our YouTube channel, you must!); two performances in York Minster had added excitement with the presence of members of the Sealed Knot, part of our day of Civil War events in June 2006, and then part of a wider Civil War Festival in 2009. It was a great pleasure introducing this repertoire to the current members of the choir when we recorded it earlier this year, and look forward to more performances when the two CDs are released. Here's a sneak preview of the project, William Byrd's O Lord, make thy servant Charles our king, a work originally intended for Elizabeth I but appearing with changed text in later sources.
It was at the first performance of Dusk Songs in 2006 that we realised what a fantastic piece of dramatic liturgy we had on our hands and its always exciting working out how to make it work in different venue. It was a part of a York Minster Nights evening in 2011 that this was particularly effective, as we used different parts of the building for the movements, moving from the Tower Crossing to the Quire, then the Chapter House. The opening movement starts with the hymn O nata lux de lumine, where Latin and English text, chanting and improvisation, all overlap. Stunning.
Of course, there have also been services we have sung that have been memorable. The celebration of the Pilgrimage of Our Lady of Walsingham in York Minster, in 2004, also broadcast as Morning Worship on Radio 4; the first performance of Kerry Andrew’s York Mass in 2008 during our summer week of residence at York Minster. It’s been a privilege to lead worship in York Minster over the last 20 years, and this started in 1996 with Compline sung during Holy Week in the Lady Chapel; now this tradition has now been extended to Lent, and
culminates in a performance of Stainer’s The Crucifixion. This year’s performance, which fell on the choir’s ACTUAL birthday, with soloists Jason Darnell, Andrew Thompson and organist David Pipe, was particularly enjoyable. Here's God so loved the world, such a well crafted movement.
Ultimately, of course, at the time every concert feels like (or should feel like) the best! If pushed, our summer 2002 concert, in the Quire, was a farewell concert for a large proportion of the choir, and probably does win my accolade of all-time favourites. Here's our performance of Vaughan Williams' 3 Shakespeare Songs from that concert.
I’m immensely proud of all our CDs. They all have different associations, and are records of the choir at that time. So here's some of my highlights:
Dusk Songs, recorded in the Catholic Chapel at Everingham, was very exciting and memorable. Not least the trouble we had with wildfowl outside the church - cue Jason to chase them away!
The two Victoria CDs were last-minute changes and are all the more spontaneous for that: Versa est in luctum from Requiem Aeternam.
It was a real privilege working with Philip Moore for the premiere recording of his Pilgrimage as part of our New Horizons disc - A Passionate Man's Pilgrimage is the last movement of this work.
The stunning three-choir Salve regina was part of our disc devoted to music by Marc-Antoine Charpentier.
But our first (now completely sold out) and our most recent (still in the cutting room) were particularly enjoyable to create – both in the NCEM – and for our 2 CDs recorded in February, I’m really looking forward to the final product!