Rory Wainwright Johnston is a conductor and composer native Bradford-on-Avon, based in Manchester. He joined ORA Singers together our one of our ‘Bloggers in Residence’ in 2018, eager to re-superstructure his suffer of choral writing, singing, directing with the following generation.

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About Rory...

Rory is a composer and conductor based in the rainy city the Manchester. Having actually just perfect his master in Composition, the is progressively forging a route in the professional world of music.

Growing up within the English choral tradition as a treble at bath Abbey, Rory’s musicianship was created by composers choose Howells and also Byrd. Luckily having been played plenty the Radiohead and Manic Street Preachers on cassettes in his parents’ vehicle as a kid, his taste expanded to encompass an ext than simply the classical sphere. Nowadays, Rory enjoys listening to Renaissance polyphony and contemporary art music alongside R&B and also 90"s hiphop.

Rory is passionate about encouraging human being to connect with contemporary music, opened their ears to new possibilities and also sound worlds. The admires the ORA Singers for their commitment to brand-new music and also is extensively looking forward to working through them.

Leading on native the exciting prospects the Stephanie’s piece and the beautiful evocative poetry she is working with, I’d also like to bring us into the brand-new Year talking about text, and also how to decide what to perform with it.

I, prefer Stephanie, uncover the picking of the text of a choral piece the many excruciatingly daunting part that the compositional procedure but, together frustrating together it have the right to be, it’s certainly the best means for things to be. The message is just as crucial a part of the music as the melodies and harmonies one writes, together it is the prompt conveyor of meaning and place every various other parameter the the music in context, therefore caring around choosing the appropriate text is no poor thing. It’s essential when you begin out, though, to think around what you desire or need out the text. Perform you want something the is walk to assist you through a structure? miscellaneous that will amplify her musical ideas? over there are many things you might or may not want from a text, and also being conscious of what one is offering you will enable you come articulate its meaning to the fullest extent.


In my mind I watch there being essentially three categories you have the right to put a text into:

- Narrative

- Descriptive

- Functional

(To every the English students the end there, ns apologise for being therefore reductive, yet for the benefits of text setup in choral music i think this is a helpful framework indigenous which to start.)

The very first is together its surname describes: that a narrative item of text that either speak a story or complies with some type of stare temporal structure – this can include things like oratorio texts, narrative poetry or nursery rhymes. The 2nd encompasses all forms of city that paint a photo of one object, scene, human being or emotion, etc. And the third is for messages that have actually some kind of usage that is extra-musical (outside of the music itself) like spiritual texts. Of course, these categories space not support exclusive, yet it’s a great place to start when thinking about what you want or need from a text.

Narrative message is great, together it provides you an almost immediate structure with which to develop your music from, definition that you can emphasis on the musical ideas and also how you want to shape them transparent the structure. Descriptive poems and texts provide you more freedom and allow you to play roughly with repetition and structure much more, as regularly there space not necessarily any obvious climactic moments. Message that is wholly sensible is - in my opinion - even more freeing, as there might be some kind of textual structure, yet without rigid or descriptive facets the words room an empty vessel for your creative thoughts; an example of this would certainly be the Kyrie eleison message from the Latin mass – very tiny description or narrative, just three teams of 2 words each.

I’ve constantly been a sucker for texts of the 2nd kind. Ns love utilising native painting and creating musical concepts that match the literary imagery that the poetry; for that factor Shakespeare’s Sonnets and other Lyric poetry has constantly been an easy fit. I additionally used to compose music the was constantly relocating from one idea come the other, and also the liberty of framework that highly descriptive texts gave me was an extremely liberating because that that kind of writing. I’ve recently started composing much much more contemplative music the finds its attention in the location junxtap of subtle textures and also ideas, and also less in the advancement and climax of musical material, which has actually led me to looking at text in a different means than I supplied to. Here’s an example of wherein I went against my initial urges in stimulate to emphasis my ideas.

I was commissioned in September 2018 to collection the Ave Maria text by Kantos room Choir for a concert in November. This text has actually been collection hundreds, if not thousands of times over the centuries, and is one of the many well-known spiritual texts in the world, for this reason there was a lot come think about when deciding what come write. If you room unfamiliar v it, the a prayer to the Virgin Mary, one of the most necessary figures in the Catholic Church, and also goes choose this:

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and also blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for united state sinners, now and in the hour of our death. Amen.

At very first when ns sat down to start working ~ above the music, I started to look at the structure of the text: It is composed of 4 sentences.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.

Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et Benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus.

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora agree nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae.


This immediately gave potentially four sections to job-related with in ~ the music. The text isn’t particularly descriptive; it’s very first and foremost a functional piece of writing for liturgical use, leaving a lot of flexibility with i m sorry to collection it. At first I was thinking around the phrases and also what musical motifs and also ideas I can use to emphasise their meaning – things like: beautiful harmonies top top words saying beauty or holiness (Benedictus, Santa, gratia – Blessed, Holy, grace), and a darker more sullen tone when talking around sin and death at the end of the text. However I climate took a step ago and thought about the text’s utility and also what its useful purpose was: the a prayer to vital religious figure, chanted because that redemption. This led me come think about it in a various way. Being a prayer in essential to it is in pious and also calm, however it is also talking about a figure whose divine grace and splendour carried us the child of God. My key aim to be to produce a item of music that was calm, contemplative, and beautiful, whilst likewise having the potential to it is in radiant and also full of power without being overbearing.

Finding the balance in between those points was the challenge, and also utilising an reliable structure to be my first important action towards realising the goal. Taking a leaf the end of Howard Skempton’s book, I decided in the finish that there needed to it is in as tiny change of material as possible. I because of this decided to give myself only one minute in the piece for any kind of dramatic/musical change, definition it had actually to it is in the right one. I worked out on the 4 words ‘Sancta Maria, Mater Dei’ as the focal length point, as they encapsulate the factor why mar is such an essential figure for Christians – she’s the mom of God after ~ all! for form, i went with an A-B-A product structure, in which the external sections set the text only once through, and also the center section enabled for any type of amount of repetitions I would certainly like, as it to be the most vital message.

A: Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et Benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus.

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B: Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, A2: ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.