AST WEEK, I shared a video of Arvo Pärt’s reflection on choral music. This past weekend, I had the privilege to sing under the direction of another great contemporary composer, Sir John Rutter. I was blessed to be invited to serve as a guest singer of the Choir of St. John’s Cathedral, the Anglican cathedral of Hong Kong. We sang Rutter’s colorful settings of Te Deum and Jubilate (O Be Joyful in the Lord) at a Choral Mattins under the direction of the composer himself. It was truly an amazing and unique experience!
I have sung his most well-known pieces, For the Beauty of the Earth and The Lord Bless You and Keep You, many times when I was a young boy in school choirs. Rutter’s pieces are so popular because of their beautiful and simple melodies, and the very straightforward harmonies. However, these two pieces we sang on Sunday are more complex and are full of colors. It was wonderful to see how Mr. Rutter interpret the texts and his own music. He was a very nice and cheerful conductor, and he was constantly sharing stories and telling jokes.
During rehearsal, Mr. Rutter actually asked us to sing our choral anthem, Like As The Hart, for him. He actually knew Howells personally and he spoke very highly of his works. And John sang along with the basses while we go through the piece. To have one of the world’s most famous contemporary composer singing next to me was an unforgettable moment and an extraordinary experience!
Photo Credit: St. John’s Cathedral, Hong Kong
N 2015, John Rutter did an video interview with JW Pepper where he talked about “The Importance of Choir“. He made some very good points about choral singing in the video and he did another similar interview in the beginning of this year with Oxford University Press on “The Power of Choral Singing”:
I thought he made a very good point about “the unity among the choir members”. Choral music can only be sung when singers come together as a choir, as one body. This is very similar to the image of the Church. By contributing our own gifts and talents, we produce beautiful harmonies and give glory to God. As Christ said:
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Mt 18:20)
Whenever we gathered together to sing our prayers, He will be among us.