This collection of Christmas carols and organ music mixes together both the well-known and the relatively unknown. It ranges across the centuries – from the ancient Coventry Carol through to Poulenc’s radiantly beautiful setting of O Magnum Mysterium. The inclusion of Jacob Handl’s Resonet In Laudibus, Sweelinck’s Hodie Christus Natus Est and In Dulci Jubilo reflects the choir’s consistent championship of music from the Renaissance era as well as more modern influences.
The remainder of the programme is made up of largely well-known carols, though occasionally in an arrangement that throws unexpected new light on to these favourites. Spread amongst the choir items are four Chorale Preludes by J.S.Bach. Two from the Schübler collection and two from the Orgelbuchlein – a large collection of Chorale Preludes for every season of the year. The two chorale preludes from the Schübler collection are not Christmas pieces but instead call people to prepare for the birth of Christ. They are both arrangements by Bach of movements from two of his Cantatas. The final piece is a Noël by Daquin, a Parisian who wrote a collection of twelve Noëls based on ancient country dances.
The Cathedral Church of SS Peter & Paul, Clifton, is one of the most original and outstanding of modem religious buildings, with its design – based on hexagons – allowing the altar to be placed towards the centre of the interior and close to the people.
The superb acoustic of the building, together with one of the finest organs in the country – the three manual Rieger – make it an ideal venue for music, both liturgical and secular. The Cathedral Choir is a voluntary choir which aims to achieve the highest standards of performance in a wide range of music for liturgy. It has an extensive repertoire with special emphasis on the music of the Renaissance era and new music.
The choir is one of the most broadcast in the country, for example celebrating Christmas Day with international TV and radio broadcasts in 2005 and 2006. Also they sang music by their director of music Richard Jeffrey-Gray for the last ever flight of Concorde. This reached a live audience of over 100,000 and international broadcast.