Genesis Foundation’s new commissions celebrated in Star of Heaven

16 October 2018

The Eton Choirbook and its Legacy of Sacred Music and Hallowed, a new album by Harry Christophers & The Sixteen Release date: 2 November 2018

Genesis Foundation is delighted to announce that The Eton Choirbook and its Legacy of Sacred Music, which received its world premiere earlier this year and was live-streamed on Classic FM, a first for Eton College Chapel, has now been recorded by Harry Christophers and The Sixteen and released on CORO in an album entitled Star of Heaven.

Continuing its mission to commission new sacred music works and mentor young artists, the Genesis Foundation commissioned four new works by Sir James MacMillan and emerging composers Phillip CookeMarco Galvani and Joseph Phibbs. The commissions were all based on texts from the Eton Choirbook, an iconic music manuscript inscribed in the prestigious UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register, which features a collection of English sacred music composed by around twenty different composers during the late 15th century.

The Choirbook, a magnificent artefact, two feet tall and over three feet from side to side, it is one of the three collections of Latin liturgical music to survive the systematic destruction of Catholic religious imagery during the Reformation. The Eton Choirbook was on display during the world premiere, a rare occurrence that added to the uniqueness of the occasion.

Star of Heaven also features another Genesis Foundation commission, Stephen Hough’s exploration of faith worldwide – Hallowed which was premiered at the British Museum to accompany its Living with gods exhibition, sponsored by the Genesis Foundation.

John Studzinski, Founder and Chairman of the Genesis Foundation commented:

“The Eton Choirbook reminds us of man’s ability to both create and destroy sacred texts and objects. Sadly, such abilities are today as evident as they have ever been so as we celebrate the Eton Choirbook’s treasures and enable young composers to write in response to it we’re mindful of both what we’ve lost but also mankind’s constant need to respond to the sacred.

 “The Genesis Foundation has to date commissioned 21 pieces of choral sacred music to ensure new music of faith is constantly created and renewed. These latest commissions reflect our core beliefs in enabling artistic leaders to mentor younger talent and continuing our long-standing relationship with James MacMillan and Harry Christophers. I am also delighted that we are able to draw attention to the importance of the Eton Choirbook and its place in British history.”

John Studzinski and the Genesis Foundation are the most prolific commissioners of sacred choral music today, having commissioned more than 20 pieces of sacred music, several by James MacMillan, for Harry Christophers and The Sixteen who have performed and recorded these new works over the past decade.

Its most highly acclaimed commission to date is MacMillan’s Stabat mater, premiered at the Barbican and subsequently performed by The Sixteen and Britten Sinfonia under the baton of Harry Christophers in the Sistine Chapel in April 2018. The concert was the first ever live-streamed concert from this iconic venue and reached several million people worldwide.

The partnership between the Genesis Foundation, Sir James MacMillan and Harry Christophers has focused on the mentoring of young composers. Previous projects include the commissioning of three new Stabat mater in 2014 by Alissa Firsova, Tõnu Kõrvits and Matthew Martin, new music to poetry of the Spanish Mystics by Ruth Byrchmore, Tarik O’Regan and Roderick Williams in 2011 and, in 2008, James MacMillan, Roxanna Panufnik and Will Todd’s settings of Padre Pio’s prayer Stay with Me, Lord.

CORO is to release eleven albums across the 2018/19 season including a special collection to celebrate The Sixteen’s 40th anniversary.

Pre-order Star of Heaven: The Eton Choirbook Legacy, here.

To view a gallery of the world premiere of Hallowed, click here.

For more information on Genesis Foundation’s partnership with The Sixteen, click here.

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