‘The Story of St Alban’ was commissioned in 2015 by St Albans Choir for performance at Hatfield University by St Albans Choir, baritone soloist Michael Bundy, narrator Andy Rashleigh, members of local school choirs, members of Orchestra Nova, conducted by George Vass. A further performance will take place at St Albans Abbey in November 2019 to celebrate 50 years of the choir. The music sets an original libretto by Andy Rashleigh which traces the complex story of this iconic historical and religious figure. The pathos of Alban itself (baritone voice) is contrasted by the chirpy pagans (children), whilst a commentating chorus takes on a variety of important roles and the narrator links the characters, all underpinned by the ensemble. The ending – a setting of the St Alban Prayer – was written towards the beginning of the compositional process, with the musical material of the rest of the work leading to and branching from this pivotal section of the work. The tonality of the prayer grounds a more dissonant language which represents some of the more dramatic and dreadful aspects of the story. The creation of this cantata has enabled close artistic collaboration with lyricist Andy Rashleigh with regards setting the story of St Alban in a modern context, and the chance to introduce this to a younger generation through the involvement of young voices. The second, more large-scale performance scheduled for November 2019 will enable this narrative to be experienced by more young singers, as well as give them the opportunity to perform in a major venue alongside professional musicians. A direct outcome of this work has been a further choral commission for the Open University Choir, performed in November 2017, and a forthcoming large-scale project in Lewisham, London, with groups of older singers in October 2019.
Lane, L., & Rashleigh, A. The Story of St Alban