We are delighted to announce that the Choir’s recording of Gabriel Jackson's The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ has won the Choral Award at the 2020 BBC Music Magazine Awards. We're grateful to all those who took the time to vote after the recording was shortlisted by a panel of expert critics - and of course we're thrilled with the outcome!
Gabriel Jackson was commissioned to compose the Passion for the College's 750th Anniversary in 2014, and the première performance was given that year by Merton College Choir. The CD was recorded in the Chapel in June 2018, and features soprano Emma Tring and tenor Guy Cutting. On its release, BBC Music Magazine's five-star review described it as an "outstanding recording [which] bursts with energy."
The inclusion of texts by Mertonians and the use of the King James Version of the Bible - part of which was translated at Merton - root it in the life of the College. The voices of Mertonians comprise much of the libretto, compiled by the College’s Chaplain, Simon Jones: notably First World War Poet, Edmund Blunden, whose war poetry serves as an analogue for Christ’s Agony at Gethsemane. The libretto also features the work of American poet TS Eliot, who came to Merton as a graduate student at the beginning of the First World War, and whose poem ‘Little Gidding’ is set to music in the final track, ‘The End and the Beginning’.
The disc was also acclaimed as one of the best recordings of 2019 by Choir & Organ magazine, allmusic.com and MusicWeb International. Benjamin Nicholas, the College's Reed Rubin Director of Music, accepted the BBC Music Magazine award in a 'virtual awards ceremony' on Monday 11 May, praising the successful partnership between Merton and Delphian Records which has led to a series of highly-acclaimed recordings.
The 2018 recording was the subject of a Gramophone article by Martin Cullingford, recently republished by the magazine, in which Gabriel Jackson described the process of creating the Passion, at the time the longest work he had written. And excerpts from the CD also formed the basis for a series of reflections for Holy Week by Simon Jones and Associate Chaplain Jarred Mercer.
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