Living catalogues: from Mundy to Moore
Over the past two years the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) has significantly expanded its publishing portfolio with the acquisition of two leading church music publishers, Cathedral Music and Cathedral Press. Stuart Robinson has been looking at their
You only have to walk into the exhibitors’ hall at one of our music conferences to see that nowadays there are many sheet music publishers of all shapes and sizes. That wasn’t the case when Simon Hill and Richard Barnes (Alto Vicar Choral at St Paul’s Cathedral and Organist of Holy Trinity, Brompton, respectively) founded Cathedral Music in 1977. Their new venture was a response to the contracting catalogues of large UK publishers, especially in the realm of church music. Since then a catalogue now totalling 1,000 titles, ranging from anthems and Communion settings to service music and works for organ and orchestra, has been developed.
Now Cathedral Music has been taken under the RSCM’s wing and already 65 of their choral works are available through the RSCM’s online shop. Stanford and Parry feature large, as do works by modern day composers such as Philip Moore, Richard Lloyd and Patrick Gowers.
There are also comparatively recent editions of older works edited by eminent musicologists such as Maurice Bevan, Anthony Greening, Peter le Huray and Denis Stevens.
As its name implies, the company has been a regular supplier of advanced choral repertoire to many cathedrals and collegiate chapels. Although RSCM acquired Cathedral Music last year, its erstwhile co-owner Richard has been retained as a consultant to advise customers on rare existing repertoire, as well as publishing new works.
On the other hand, Cathedral Press has its centre of gravity further back in time, with around 60 editions of choral works from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. It was founded by the Welsh musicologist Dr Peter James in 1997, to publish clear performing editions of historic music manuscripts, based on his own PhD research.
The first set of editions included verse anthems by the 17th century Welsh-born composer Thomas Tomkins, and now anthems and motets by Batten, Weelkes, Byrd and Gabrieli feature in its extensive catalogue. The RSCM acquisition of Cathedral Press came about following the sudden death two years ago of its then co-editor David Evans. David, a warm and affable man, was a music lecturer at Bangor University, and had taken over Cathedral Press in 2010 along with fellow lecturer Graeme Cotterill.
One of David’s most notable projects was to research anthems found in partbooks at Chirk Castle on the AngloWelsh border. They make a wonderful Renaissance playlist of works by Mundy, Parsons and Tallis, amongst others, and led to a CD recording by the Brabant Ensemble on the Hyperion label. I’d recommend looking at videos about Weelkes, Batten and the Chirk manuscripts on the Cathedral Press page on the RSCM online shop. And the production of new editions under the Cathedral Press imprint is continuing, with David Wulstan currently working on anthems by John Tavener.
Overseeing both the Cathedral Press and Cathedral Music imprints is the RSCM’s Head of Publishing, Tim Ruffer who joined the RSCM from Boosey and Hawkes in 2002. Since then he has seen the RSCM’s list of publications grow to a list of 2,000 titles, intended for choirs large and small, a wide range of abilities, and a variety of worship styles.
“We are expanding our appeal to cathedral and collegiate chapels by introducing more contemporary repertoire,” he said. “Broadening our scope enables us to publish a wider range of music for choirs that up till now wouldn’t have been in our remit.”
Back in the exhibitors’ hall at our music conferences, the RSCM stand – which always generates plenty of interest – will in future be groaning with a wider range of works: a living and precious catalogue of our choral heritage.
www.rscmshop.com Stuart Robinson is the RSCM’s Media Relations Organiser and Wales Coordinator