The Trinity Choir director reveals his deep connection to the music of Herbert Howells.
Howells still seems a bit of a rarity on disc. How did you first encounter him?
I sang his church music from when I was nine at Winchester Cathedral where I was a choirboy for four and a half years. As I sang Tallis and Byrd, I sang Howells, so it’s very much a part of my existence, if you like.
Was it love at first hearing for you?
Yes, yes, it was. When we sang Howells’ Collegium Regalein Winchester Cathedral as choristers, and we came to that Gloria, it was the thing you really looked forward to singing on a Saturday Evensong in a cathedral with lots of people there. You just went for it and let it soar. We loved it. It’s sort of singers’ music, and for young boys, it was the stuff we enjoyed most. In a curious way, I didn’t love singing Tallis and Byrd as much as a nine-year-old as I did singing Howells. Tallis and Byrd seemed quite tricky and, looking back, not so tuneful and exciting. Whereas Howells just sort of blew you away with these great settings of the...