A reflection on the Gloria of Byrd’s 5-part Mass
Although composed for Suzi Digby and ORA, with their kind permission Laudate Dominum bears a secondary dedication to the memory of David Trendell, inspirational Director of the Chapel Choir at King’s College, London, whose tragically early death in October 2014 shocked and saddened his legion of friends in the musical world. Among many other accomplishments David was a Byrd scholar. I dare to hope that he might have approved of this setting, which not only nods towards the Gloria of Byrd’s five-part Mass by appropriating some of its imitative “points”, but also tests how far the wider principles underpinning Byrd’s mature polyphonic writing can survive transplantation into an expanded tonal and harmonic idiom. The music alternates seamlessly between 4/4 “common time”, and an irregular 7/8 time signature. The latter, less amenable to imitative counterpoint, therefore serves mostly to usher in contrasting moments of rhythmic and verbal unanimity.
Francis Pott [b.1957] was a chorister at New College, Oxford. He held Open Music Scholarships at Winchester College and then at Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he studied composition with Robin Holloway and Hugh Wood while pursuing piano studies privately in London with Hamish Milne. Throughout the 1990s Pott was John Bennett Lecturer in Music at St Hilda’s College, Oxford. In 2001 he became Head of London College of Music, University of West London, acceding in 2007 to the University’s first Chair in Composition. He also holds MA and MusB degrees, a PhD and a Fellowship of London College of Music (FLCM), as well as a Principal Fellowship (PFHEA) of the Higher Education Academy.
Francis Pott is recognised particularly for his sacred choral and organ works, which have been exclusively represented by Edition Peters since 2013. His music has been performed and broadcast in over 40 countries, widely published and released worldwide on CD. Winner of 4 national and 2 international composition awards, in 1997 he received First Prize in the piano solo section of the S.S. Prokofiev Composing Competition, Moscow. In 2006 and 2011 he was a nominated finalist in the BASCA/BBC Annual Composer Awards, London. Recent works include a Sonata for viola and piano (released on the EM Records label in December 2014), song cycles and further choral and organ music. Francis is currently working on Concertos for Violin and for Cor Anglais, and also on the second of two recently-commissioned works for chorus and orchestra.