FRESH from their recent success performing with world renowned ballet dancer Carlos Acosta at Plymouth’s Theatre Royal, the South West Chamber Choir (SWCC) bring their spring concert to Tavistock.

The concert is on Saturday March 23, at 7.30pm at Tavistock Parish Church.

Sing a New Song is a programme of sacred choral music by contemporary composers from Devon and Cornwall, described by composer Russell Pascoe as ‘the most interesting I have seen in a long while’. 

The programme was originally prepared for a concert at Buckfast Abbey in March 2020. But the arrival of Covid-19 meant it was cancelled with less than a week to go.

“I’m delighted that we’re finally getting a chance to sing this glorious music. It promises to be a real treat,” said the choir’s musical director Stephen Trahair.

The concert showcases the wealth of musical talent in the South West. The composers themselves will be among the audience. Here is a flavour of the music to be performed. Requiem for Peace by Tavistock composer Andrew Wilson, was commissioned by the choir for a concert at St Andrew’s, Plymouth, to commemorate the centenary of the Armistice in November 2018. It’s a substantial work, which reflects the tragedy of war, with martial percussion and a reference to the sunset bugle call. Andrew said: “When I was approached by the SWCC with a view to composing a major work to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War, I feverishly set to work straightaway, as the commission germinated the seed of an idea that had been in my mind for some time.

“The first performance took place, strangely enough on my birthday, in Plymouth Minster in November 2018. It was a very moving occasion. I remember the hush after the last poignant notes of the Lux Aeterna ‘let perpetual light shine upon them’ died away and the audience applause’. Although the piece was written in memory of those untold thousands who lost their lives in the 1914-1918 war, tragically, it is true that this plea for peace has lost none of its urgency and this performance is dedicated to the thousands who have perished through warfare since 2018.”

Brian Chapple’s The Greatest of These is Love is an anthem for choir and organ, written for the 700th anniversary of the church of St Eustachius, Tavistock, in 2018. Russsell Pascoe is from over the Tamar, living in Truro, and his work I will lift up mine eyes (Psalm 121) was written for the St Mary’s Singers of Truro Cathedral, and is the second of his three Cornish Psalms (Salmow Kernewek). It’s a joyful piece of writing.

Jesus Knelt by Judy Whitlock was commissioned for this concert. The libretto was written by the composer who lives in Cornwall and is based loosely on the gospel story of Jesus inthe Garden of Gethsemane, awaiting his betrayal at the hands of Judas. It is written for soprano, mezzo-soprano and contralto voices.

Helen Porter also lives in Cornwall – her composition (also commissioned for the choir) is a setting of the Anne Ridler poem Choosing a Name in which the poet contemplates the giving of a name to her newborn son: “I love not knowing what I love”. She ponders what the future holds for the child, and how he will bring meaning to the name.

Jason Smart lives in Plymouth. He conducted the South West Chamber Choir for several years. His Three Motets were written for the choir and first performed by them in 2011. Scored for six-part choir (with divided sopranos and altos) they are Crux fidelis (Faithful Cross), Ego sum panis vivus (I am the Living Bread) and Benedicta sit Sancta Trinitas (Blessed is the Holy Trinity)

Stephen Trahair has directed the choir since 2008. He has set Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem God’s Grandeur of 1877, in which Hopkins asks why people were losing their faith, pointing to man’s increasing alienation from nature through industrialisation.

Clive Jenkins is a Plymothian whose West of England roots are apparent in many of his compositions. His Mayflower Portraits for organ were composed for the 400th anniversary of the pilgrims’ voyage in 2020. Also for organ is David Davies Versets on ‘Angelus emittitur’, a medieval hymn describing the Archangel Gabriel’s visit to Mary, when he tells her that the Holy Spirit will ‘overshadow’ her and she will bear a son, and call him Jesus.

The work was commissioned in 2019 by the Exeter & District Organists’ Association, and consists of the theme followed by eight short movements reflecting the verses of the hymn. Sean Sweeney will be playing the organ – he was Director of Music at Tavistock Parish Church for 12 years and directed the Chamber Choir.

Further details at or at the door. The choir’s website is