Hugh Benham is chairman of the academic board of the Guild of Church Musicians, an organist, teacher, academic, examiner—as well as a fine composer. Several CDs of his compositions have been released, including A Triumph Song (Convivium Records, 2011) and Hugh Benham: Sacred Coral Music (2019), and these are both excellent introductions to his writing—both feature on my regular Spotify playlists. The lush harmonies of Love came down at Christmas and Ave Maria are a delight to the ear, and it is not hard to sing along to Glorious things of thee are spoken.
During lockdown I obtained copies of three of his organ works from United Music Publishing (www.ump.co.uk). The first is from 2012, but only published this year, the Prelude on ‘Ave Maris Stella’ a short but delightfully evocative improvisation on the well-known plainsong theme. I discovered this piece a few years ago and gave its Irish and Northern Irish premieres, and found it a gem to add to both the service and recital repertoire. I was thrilled that the published score was dedicated to me.
Mysterium fidei, the mystery of faith is an utterly ravishing piece which entwines the sinuous style of Gregorian chant with harmony which is thoroughly modern, drawing the listener in a timeless manner to the gate of heaven. In contrast to the mystery is the exuberance of Trinity Voluntary, particularly in the very fine recording by Malcolm Archer.