'In the beginning' is a single-movement motet for mezzo-soprano "story-teller" and unaccompanied chorus. The first performance was given in 1947 in Cambridge Massachusets, by the Collegiate Chorale, conducted by Robert Shaw. It uses verses from of the King James Bible (Genesis 1:1-2:7) that describe the seven days of creation, and tells the story in a "gentle narrative style", although jazz rhythms creep in at various points.
The rest of the very appealing programme was Stravinsky's Concerto for String Orchestra in D, and Haydn's Little Organ (a personal favourite) and Nelson Masses. Superb performances from the Britten Sinfonia, conductor David Hill, and the Choir of St John's College, Cambridge.
The choir was just twenty-six male voices, twelve of them boy choristers, which is unusually small particularly for the Nelson Mass. But even in the vast space of the magnificent Norman cathedral their bell-like clarity rang out, and the a cappella performance of the Copland was music-making that I will treasure for a long time.
A quite magical evening - live music rules!
Image credit - Norwich cathedral
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If you enjoyed this post take An Overgrown Path to Master Tallis' Testament