CAPTION: The choir rehearsing the new canticles ahead of a BBC Radio 3 recording

Exeter Cathedral Girl’s Choir celebrates 25 years with specially commissioned canticles by Nico Muhly

Posted: 12th November, 2019

Exeter Cathedral Girls’ Choir is celebrating its 25th birthday this month by performing two new choral works specially commissioned for the anniversary.

The new versions of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimitis are by the renowned American composer Nico Muhly.

His previous works have included two operas for the New York Metropolitan Opera, film scores, pop collaborations and church music.

He was a boy chorister in Rhode Island and says that when he wrote the pieces he was imagining himself singing them as a child:

“I was aiming for writing music that musicians of that age would love to sing, something that is challenging, rewarding and fun.”

Nico was in Exeter Cathedral to hear his new works for the first time as he sat in on the rehearsal for a BBC Radio 3 Evensong recording, due to be transmitted on 18 December.

He said: “I’m so excited, the first time you hear a piece of yours, no matter how big or small, it’s still totally thrilling and I’m very glad I haven’t lost that connection to the first time.”

Canon James Mustard and the composer Nico Muhly studying the music for The Exeter Service during a rehearsal

The Reverend James Mustard, Canon Precentor of Exeter Cathedral, who oversees the choirs, said he had been wanting to work with Nico Muhly for some time and was “ecstatic” about the new pieces.

“I am overjoyed, it has been a real dream for me to commission a composer of such stature to write for Exeter Cathedral,” he said.

“The canticles are collectively called The Exeter Service, something many cathedrals have, but we’ve never had that before.”

The Girls’ Choir will perform the new works at a special anniversary Evensong at 4pm at Exeter Cathedral on Sunday 17 November.

Former choir members have been invited back to Exeter Cathedral to join in the celebration.

The Magnificat and Nunc Dimitis are based on passages in the book of Luke in the Bible. They are traditionally sung daily at Evensong in the Church of England.