Durham Cathedral Choir Association

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Richard Lloyd was the Organist and Master of Choristers of Durham Cathedral from 1974 to 1985. During that time both David Hill and Ian Shaw were Sub-Organists with him at Durham . The Bede Singers is a group of former members of Durham Cathedral Choir, augmented by a number of soprano choral scholars at Cambridge University who got together in 2006 to produce this recording.

Richard Lloyd

Richard Lloyd was born in Cheshire in 1933. He became a chorister at Lichfield Cathedral and has been involved in church music in one way or other ever since. He was a music scholar at Rugby School and organ scholar at Jesus College, Cambridge, where he studied wit Peter Le Huray, Philip Radcliffe and Patrick Hadley.

After National Service, during which he qualified in clerical skills and as a tank gunner - as well as being organist and choirmaster at Shape and compiling a guide to Paris restaurants - he spent some years as sub-organist at Salisbury Cathedral under Christopher Dearnley. He was successively organist at Hereford Cathedral and then at Durham Cathedral before returning to Salisbury as deputy head at the Cathedral School under Michael Blee. This was curtailed by illness so he spends much of his time writing church music.

His interests include cricket, reading, the countryside, the theatre, unspoilt pubs and listening to music. He is married to Morwenna and they have four daughters, and to date, seven grandchildren.

The Music

The selections on this recording were made by the composer, and consist largely of music that has not been recorded before. The content spans little under fifty years of writing, though the majority is from recent years.

The quality of Richard Lloyd’s music speaks for itself, and needs little introduction. It abounds with vitality, enthusiasm, and joie de vivre. The warm, predominately major keys are borne out a deep-rooted and confident faith. Tonality is always strong, and though modulations are plentiful and refreshing, the tonic key retains its homely lure. He is never satisfied with a straightforward chord, always seeking to warm it with a suspension or passing note here, or spice it with a dissonance there, an added seventh, ninth, eleventh, and occasionally beyond.

The writing distils the best of the 20th century Anglican choral writers; we see the influence of the greats - Wood, Stanford and Parry, to later writers - Darke, Sumsion, and Howells, and the odd hint of Lennox Berkeley and George Oldroyd. Whilst it may be hard to draw parallels musically with William Byrd, Richard Lloyd shares with him the affinity for a powerful text. The emotion of the words pours into the music, and even the most familiar verses are given fresh perspective.

The influence of the hymn tune is often evident, and in particular the descant, with which he delights choristers and congregations alike. Hence the much-favoured soprano solo, which often effects a kind of descant over a full choir accompaniment. Harmonically the deft enharmonic change effortlessly opens the door to a new tonality, as if walking into a different room, and the seventh chord with the seventh at its root is an effective pivot.

Vocal orchestration is a strong characteristic of the music - the soft male voice choir effect of TTBB sections, and effective double alto section in the Magnificat, and the rich, syrupy opening verse of God Be In My Head, strongly reminiscent of the colliery brass band.

The organ writing complements and supports the choir, maintaining momentum and propelling the music onwards.

Above all there is an alluring warmth to the music. It is ‘easy listening’ in the real sense of the words, and like a good meal one is left afterwards feeling deeply satisfied, sub-consciously smiling, and replete.

© Simon Anderson

R Lloyd.mp3

The Music of Richard Lloyd

PRCD 838

£ 5.-

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