BBC Radio 3 has announced the return of live music to its Choral Evensong programme starting today, Wednesday 29 July at 3.30pm, with a month-long residency at St Martin-in-the-Fields in London.
The services in the residency will feature four London-based choirs, all of whom will comply with social distancing guidelines throughout, with no congregation present.
This will be the first time live choral singing will be broadcast in the UK since the national lockdown and suspension of worship and religious services in churches in March.
Today’s Choral Evensong will feature St Martin’s Voices, who are based at the Trafalgar Square church. The hymn ‘Lord of all hopefulness’ will open the programme, set to the traditional Irish tune ‘Slane’, which was the final piece of music heard in St Martin-in-the-Fields the night before the church was forced to close due to the coronavirus pandemic. This will be followed by the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in B minor by T Tertius Noble.
The second broadcast (Wednesday 5 August) will feature an octet from the Church of Great St Bartholomew, London’s oldest parish church, who will perform a programme taking in Arvo Pärt‘s setting of the Beatitudes and Peter Maxwell Davies‘s ‘St Bartholomew’s Prayer’.
The BBC Singers are set to feature on the third broadcast (Wednesday 12 August) under Nicholas Chalmers, for a service which includes an anthem by John Scott, St Paul’s Cathedral’s former choirmaster, marking the fifth anniversary of his death.
The final broadcast of the St Martin’s residency (Wednesday 19 August) will be hosted by the Gesualdo Six, with a programme including the world premiere of ‘Night Prayer’ by the group’s director Owain Park, who also composed the BBC Music Magazine Christmas carol in 2019, which you can listen and download the score to here.