We are proud and delighted to be singing William Armiger's beautiful Shakespeare Songs at our next concert.
As well as being a wonderful singer and composer and a stalwart of the Saint Cecilia singers, Bill is also the Secretary of the Sanders Society. Here he tells us something of his history with Gloucester Cathedral and how John Sanders and others have influenced his compositions.
When I joined the Gloucester Cathedral Choir in 1971, I came from Southwark Cathedral with an already-developing extra-curricular love of solo concert and recital performance - especially a growing love of the German Lieder Schools of Schubert, Schumann, Wolf, Brahms and Mahler. John Sanders encouraged this interest and enabled me to present several recitals throughout the county and further afield, as well as in the cathedral itself (the Chapter House is fine but what a recital venue the North Transept is!)
When I sang "Severn Meadows" at the dedication of the Ivor Gurney Memorial at the foot of the organ steps, it was John’s encouragement that pushed me even further into an exploration of Gloucestershire’s contribution to English Song - most especially the work of Vaughan Williams, Ivor Gurney and Gerald Finzi. It was perhaps the acquisition of some insight gained through the performance of his Song Cycles that I became keenly aware of the consummate skill in setting the words of English poetry that Finzi so wonderfully demonstrates.
That love of English poetry - and the way in which it can be further enhanced through music - has since prompted me to revive early lessons in harmony and counterpoint. Largely for my own pleasure, I have become fascinated by the act of choral composition itself, and when my work is given actual voice in a live performance, that pleasure knows no bounds. My earlier recital work and my long experience of choral singing in the wonderful acoustic of Gloucester Cathedral all combine with a long-held love of English poetry. But I must acknowledge that the achievement of this sense of fulfilment owes so very much to the personal influence of two people: Christian Wilson, long-time friend, inspiring teacher, superlative accompanist and godfather to our children - to whom the third of the Five Songs from Shakespeare is dedicated; and to my other constant benefactor and encourager - John Derek Sanders.