Christopher Best

composer ~ educator ~ performer ~ writer


 

How Great, How Fall'n (original version 2004)

 

LISTEN: extract (see below for performers)

LISTEN: complete work (see below for performers)


Torre Abbey
photo by Christopher Best

"How Great, How Fallín created a lot of interest from both audience and performers alike. [It] was exactly the type of new music that JAM prides itself on supporting...."
(Edward Armitage, Chairman)

Fullscore: 30pp £17 incl P&P Purchase
Set of 9 parts (P.O.A.):
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I was inspired to write this work after visiting Torre Abbey, an English monastery dating from 1196, which is now little more than a shell.

On the fractured arch of the chancel I found an eighteenth century stone plaque, a poem by the Reverend Joseph Reeve that pays homage to the abbey ruins. Over time, this plaque has itself become a ruin, so badly weathered down one side that only parts of the verse remain legible. The elements had somehow bridged the six hundred year divide between the observer and the observed, leaving me acutely aware that our own endeavours will all too soon be eroded to dust.

Though hallowed m....
The friendly Abbey still....
Here meek religion’s ancient temple....
How great, how fall’n the (mournful?)....
Of sacrilege, behold....
Nor blush to drop the (tributary?)....
Here stood the …. here, on....
The dome extended there the....
The shatter’d …. with....
The yawning arch....
Sad striking remnants....
To pity now might move the....
Lo, sunk to rest, the wearied ….. (sleep?)
While o’er his urn the gloomy ....…weeps
Here silent pause, here draw the ….. sigh
Here musing learn to live here learn to die
................................................ Rev ....
................................................ A.D. 1790


The heavily weathered stone plaque at Torre Abbey
photo by Christopher Best

How Great, How Fall'n was composed in response to a call for works from the John Armitage Memorial Concert Trust. It was one of only three compositions selected for performance that year. The premiere took place at Church of St Brides, Fleet St, and was subsequently heard at Church of St Mary, Cambridge and Church of St Cuthbert, Edinburgh.


Rehearsing at the Church of St Brides, Fleet Street, London
photo by Christopher Best

The recording included on this page is from the St Brides premiere on 18th March 2004, with the following forces:

Claire Seaton: Soprano
Andrew Watts: Alto
Dan Ludford-Thomas: Tenor
Michael Wallace: Baritone
Daniel Hyde: Organ
Onyx Brass
The Chapel Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge
Sarah MacDonald: Conductor
Edward Armitage: Producer
Daniel Wiener: Recording Engineer



Updated March 2016

© Christopher Best 2016