Frances-Hoad’s Even You Song

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Frances-Hoad
LABELS: FHR
ALBUM TITLE: Frances-Hoad
WORKS: Even You Song
PERFORMER: Singers from St Augustine’s CE (VA) Junior School, Bishop Creighton Academy, West Town Primary Academy & William Law CE Primary School/James Bowstead; Peterborough Cathedral Choir/Steven Grahl; David Humphreys (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: FHR61

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Even You Song was premiered a year ago at Peterborough Cathedral, and is described as ‘a multi-disciplinary fusion-fantasy’. In live performance, it combined the raw elements of a traditional Church of England evensong with lighting effects, video projections and comments by couples from Peterborough about travelling to the moon.

On disc, only the sound remains, although there are helpful photographs in the booklet. Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s music is probably the CD’s strongest feature. Where does your faith lie?, the organ voluntary at the outset, immediately sets a brooding atmosphere of questioning and mystery.

The Preces and Responses give the children’s choirs participating in the project responses which are eminently singable without being vapid. The Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, mainly unaccompanied, are vivid, memorable settings, and could easily be excised from Even You Song for use in the conventional evensong service.

Given the potential cringe-factor involved in lines like ‘How would it feel to go to the moon?’ and ‘What will be outside the window?’, cantor Robbie Haylett does well to make his text sound dignified and serious. Musically and dramatically the high point of the work is Anthem, where Frances-Hoad marshals an imaginative clutch of vocal effects to evoke the weightless sounds and sensations of the outer space environment.

To get the full effect of Even You Song, you probably had to be there. But as the record of a unique occasion, and for Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s music, this CD was undoubtedly worth making.

Terry Blain