Renowned Composer Commissioned to write for King Richard lll

Posted by ap507 at Oct 30, 2014 10:53 AM |
Prize-winning composer Judith Bingham to write music for Richard III reinterment

Issued by Leicester Cathedral on 30 October  

The reinterment of King Richard lll will be take place accompanied by music written by prize-winning composer, Judith Bingham.

This event is unprecedented and so Leicester Cathedral wishes to ensure that the liturgy and music used in the services planned for March 2015 will carry both a profound sense of history whilst communicating afresh to our contemporary community his Christian spirituality.  

The Dean of Leicester said “I am delighted that Judith Bingham is composing this new work for King Richard III’s re-interment. It will therefore receive its premiere on Thursday 26th March.  Judith has sensitively researched texts which bring to life the spirituality of his time, yet which still resonate with us in a world that remains laden with battles, betrayal and the scars of war.”

King Richard III owned scriptures translated by John Wycliffe. The text for this anthem will draw on verses from Psalm 42 in a translation by John Wycliffe who was Rector of Lutterworth in Leicestershire. This will include verse 10: ‘While my bones be broken altogether; mine enemies, that trouble me, despised me. While they say to me, by all days; Where is thy God?’ Additionally words from the epitaph of Sir Marmaduke Constable of Flamborough, a Knight of the King’s company who served at Bosworth will bring the anthem to its conclusion. These words speak of God’s abiding goodness even facing death – ‘And now he abydyth God’s mercy, and hath no other socure Ffor, as ye se hym here, he lieth under this stone’

Judith Bingham is delighted. “I am thrilled and deeply honoured to be writing an anthem for the reinterment of Richard III. This is a unique opportunity for any composer and I hope to bring to it the respect and solemnity it deserves.”

Dr Christopher Johns,  Director of Music for Leicester Cathedral said “I’m delighted that Judith Bingham will be composing an anthem for the Reinterment Service. We know that the quality of liturgical music was very important to King Richard, as he went to great lengths to recruit the very best musicians of the day to the choral foundations with which he was associated. Judith is rightly regarded as one of the leading composers of contemporary choral music and this, coupled with her keen interest in late Medieval history, make her the ideal person to write a piece for the burial in the 21st century of a 15th century monarch.”

The news of Judith Bingham’s commission was announced at a dinner held last night at the Museum of St John, London, and attended by the descendants of both sides who fought at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.


Judith Bingham Biography

Born in Nottingham in 1952, and raised in Mansfield and Sheffield, Judith Bingham began composing as a small child, and then studied composing and singing at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She was awarded the Principal’s prize in 1971, and 6 years later the BBC Young Composer award. Recent composition prizes include: the Barlow Prize for a cappella music in 2004, two British Composer Awards in 2004 (choral and liturgical) one in 2006 (choral) and the instrumental award in 2008.

Judith Bingham was a member of the BBC Singers for many years, and between 2004 and 2009 she was their ‘Composer in Association’, during which time she wrote a series of choral works. Several of these were for the BBC Singers, but there were also pieces for other professional, amateur and collegiate choirs, including Salt in the Blood, written for the BBC Symphony Chorus to perform at the 1995 Proms, a Magnificat andNunc Dimittis for King’s College Cambridge, and diverse anthems and church works for many UK cathedrals. A CD of some of her choral works –‘Remoter Worlds’ by the BBC Singers was released in 2009 on the Signum label. In 2007 she was made a Fellow of the Royal School of Church Music for distinguished services to church music. Judith Bingham has, until recently, combined the careers of professional singer and serious composer – an almost automatic coupling in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, but a rarer one in more recent times. Judith Bingham’s compositional voice is a distinctive one: her singer’s feeling for expressive melodic lines is complemented by a strong rhythmic and harmonic sense. Her music is never purely abstract in conception, but always shaped and coloured by extra-musical sources of inspiration – both from the natural world and from the world of arts and ideas.

Although Bingham’s output is marked by the number and variety of its choral works, she has always been seen as an all-rounder, and the scope of her activities has included pieces for brass band, symphonic wind ensemble and various chamber groups and solo instruments, concertos for trumpet and bassoon, oboe and tuba, and several impressive works for large orchestra. She has written a substantial body of pieces for organ including Jacob’s Ladder, a concerto written for Stephen Cleobury and Philip Brunelle. A CD of her organ music performed by Tom Winpenny was released in 2010. A carol God would be born in thee was performed at the King’s College Cambridge Nine Lessons and Carols at Christmas 2004 and was released by EMI on the CD ‘On Christmas Day’. Recently xommissions have been for for the BBC Singers and Guy Johnston, Sarah Connolly and Tenebrae, Benedict Nelson and Graham Johnson, and St. Paul’s Cathedral, as well as works for choirs in America and Sweden.

Editor’s notes

  • The Dig for Richard III was led by the University of Leicester, working with Leicester City Council and in association with the Richard III Society.  The originator of the search project was Philippa Langley of the Richard III Society.
  • Sunday 22nd March, the coffin leaves the University of Leicester, travels round local villages and returns to the Cathedral for a service of Compline at which the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nicholls will preach.

Monday 23rd to Wednesday 25th: The mortal remains of King Richard III will lie in repose in Leicester Cathedral. The public are welcome to come pray and pay their respects during daylight hours.

Monday 23rd March: Cardinal Nichols will celebrate Mass for the repose of the soul (a ‘Requiem Mass’) for Richard III in Holy Cross Church, the Catholic parish church and Dominican priory in Leicester city centre. The Choir from St Barnabas’ Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Diocese of Nottingham, will sing at this Mass, which will be open to the public.

Thursday 26th March: The mortal remains of Richard III will be re-interred in Leicester Cathedral, with an invited congregation and in the presence of the Most Rt Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, senior clergy, other Christian denominations and representatives of the World Faiths.

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