Evening Prayer, the public service that is celebrated in the late afternoon or evening, is also commonly known as Evensong, “especially (but not exclusively) when the office is rendered chorally.” (Evening Prayer)
The women of the choir of St. Luke’s in Monrovia will perform its Seventh Annual Evensong for Women’s Voices on Sunday, March 16th.
Based on the services held daily in the medieval Church, Evensong has been regularly sung since the sixteenth century. The tradition has produced a magnificent repertoire of choral music, including some of the greatest pieces of sacred music in existence. (St. Luke’s Monrovia)
The program, to be performed in the 1924 Romanesque Episcopal Church, will include Denis Mason’s Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, Malcolm Archer’s Preces and Responses, and the anthem Mary and Martha and the Phos Hilaron (O Gracious Light) by Music Director and composer Kent Bennett Jones. He will accompany the choir and guest singers on the three-manual, 42-rank Bascom & Vaughan pipe organ.
Researching Denis Mason led to several dead ends until we stumbled upon Forum.Musicasacra, which provided some insight. A member of this sacred music forum (mjballou) wrote of an email exchange in 2009, in which the composer provided this autobiography:
Denis Mason, by profession a Chartered Surveyor, is an amateur musician who was a choirmaster and organist at a parish church in Birmingham (U.K.) for a number of years before business commitments necessitated a change of direction. For thirty-four years, he sang counter-tenor in, and was a deputy conductor of, the Worcester Cathedral Voluntary Choir who still sing a number of his compositions/arrangements from time to time. Now retired from active participation, he devotes his time to composing and arranging choral music with an emphasis on the needs of the smaller choir.
In contrast, information on organist, conductor, and composer Malcolm Archer was easily unearthed. Archer is currently Director of Chapel Music at Winchester College in Hampshire, England and was formerly the organist and Director of Music at St. Paul’s Cathedral. While there, he directed the choir for several State services, including the 80th birthday for Her Majesty the Queen. His official biography asserts that he trains choirs, broadcasts and records, has edited two books, and receives commissions for original work.
Evensong for Women’s Voices is a free public event to which all are welcome. It will be followed by a wine and cheese reception in Guild Hall.
Seventh Annual Evensong for Women’s Voices
Sunday, March 16th, 4 p.m.
St. Luke’s, 122 S. California Ave. at Foothill Blvd., Monrovia