In this Musical Moment, VocalEssence artistic director and founder Philip Brunelle shares insider information and beautiful music by the composer Herbert Howells.
The gifted English composer Herbert Howells was praised for his lyrical and expressive compositions that are full of intimate, emotional depth. As a child, Howells showed great musical promise. He studied composition at the Royal College of Music under Charles Villiers Stanford and counterpoint under Charles Wood. Howells devoted most of his time to teaching and composing, but also served as an organist, including positions at Salisbury Cathedral and St. John’s College, Cambridge. He held several teaching posts at institutions including the RCM, London University, and the St. Paul Girls’ School, where he succeeded Gustav Holst. Howells loved Anglican church music and the atmospheric soundscape created in English cathedrals and many of his compositions were written with these spaces in mind. His compositional style is influenced by the modal music of the Renaissance and the work of contemporary composers Edward Elgar and Ralph Vaughan Williams. Howells combines these musical influences and his love for the literature and landscape of England with skilled craftsmanship, creating music with a rich harmonic language and earnest spirituality.
Suggested choral pieces:
- A Spotless Rose
- Take Him, Earth, for Cherishing (Jubilate Music Group GCMR02869)
- Magnificat And Nunc Dimittis (Collegium Regale) (Novello & Co Ltd HL14020366)