Mass Forty Days and Forty Nights was written for the choir of St Saviour’s Church, St Albans and was first performed at the evening Mass on Ash Wednesday, 1 March, 2017 by the choir, directed by John Winter. This work is based on the Lenten hymn, Forty Days and Forty Nights, and references to the melody and its harmony are made throughout. The Agnus Dei is also a homage to William Byrd, including themes from the Agnus from his four-part Mass.
Nicholas Hare began his musical career as a chorister at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, under Dr William Harris. His education continued at Marlborough College, Wiltshire, after which he went on to the Royal College of Music in London, studying harmony and counterpoint with Dr Sydney Watson and organ with George Thalben-Ball. From there he took up a scholarship to Corpus Christi College Oxford to study music, again with Dr Watson. This was followed by research into the early 16th century composer, John Taverner. Alongside his academic work he sang with numerous student groups, in particular the Schola Cantorum of Oxford and the Clerkes of Oxenford.
In 1979 he took up an editorial role at Chester Music, London. There he worked on numerous projects ranging from the Chester Books of Motets and Madrigals to editing new works by living composers such as Lennox Berkeley, Geoffrey Burgon, Magnus Lindberg, Witold Lutoslawski, Peter Maxwell Davies, Michael Nyman and Kevin Volans. He was involved in the production of new scores and orchestral material for many first performances. He oversaw the production of new editions of established works by Manuel de Falla, Igor Stravinsky, Lennox Berkeley and others.
By contrast he was also closely involved in many educational projects, contributing instrumental arrangements of his own that are widely used in schools. These include the Kaleidoscope series for mixed ensembles, and arrangements for string, wind and brass ensembles (the latter under the pseudonym Colin A H Asher). Boosey & Hawkes publish five books of his arrangements in the Magic series for wind and brass solo with piano, whilst Novello publish books of his arrangements for ladies' and men's barbershop and close harmony groups, and several pieces in a similar vein for mixed voices.
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