BBC Singers to premiere Howard Goodall’s new cantata

Composer Howard Goodall will conduct the BBC Singers in the European premiere of his new cantata, Unconditional Love, in a London concert at The Barbican on 13 February. This is one of a number of events marking the centenary of the BBC.

The programme also includes the Mass in G Minor by Ralph Vaughan Williams, in the 150th year of the composer’s birth, and works by Judith Weir, Melissa Dunphy, Philip Herbert, Errollyn Wallen, Arnold Bax and Henry Walford Davies.   

Unconditional Love: A Cantata of Gratitude and Remembrance lasts 36 minutes and is scored for solo soprano, SATB choir, piano, organ and brass septet. It is the result of a commission from long-time supporters of the composer, St Luke’s United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas, and its inspiring Director, Sid Davis. The St Luke’s Choir and soprano Grace Roman gave the world premiere under Goodall’s baton as its first post-pandemic ‘recovery’ project, on 14 November 2021. 

The seven-movement cantata sets texts by the composer himself, alongside Michael Rosen’s moving tribute to the UK National Health Service ‘These are the hands’ (Rosen spent time in intensive care being treated for COVID), and poems by three American writers – Maya Stein’s ‘When We Get Through This’, Ella Wheeler Willcox’s ‘Thanksgiving’, and Katherine Garrison Chapin’s ‘Bright Mariner’, composed upon the death of her seven-year-old son.

The accompaniment of just nine instrumentalists is deliberately designed to bring the work within the budgets of most church and community choirs, schools, college and choral societies.

Composer Howard Goodall and St Luke’s UMC Director of Music, Sid Davis, discussing Mr. Goodall’s new major work commissioned by St Luke’s, Unconditional Love.