Gabriel Jackson: To The Field Of Stars


Gabriel Jackson’s To The Field Of Stars, performed by Nonsuch Singers and conducted by Tom Bullard.

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About this release

In October 2013, Nonsuch Singers gave the UK premiere of Gabriel Jackson’s To the field of stars, and it seemed the ideal piece for the choir’s debut recording. The companion pieces have their thematic origins in the stars and the heavens—Arvo Pärt’s invocation to the Morning Star, taken from his Seven Magnificat Antiphons, Jonathan Dove’s exultant Seek Him that maketh the seven stars, and another gem by Gabriel Jackson, Creator of the stars of night. Broadening the celestial theme allows for the inclusion of the Assumption of the Virgin in Victoria’s sublime Vidi speciosam, and the sheer joy of Byrd’s dance-like Laudibus in sanctis.

Commissioned Programme Note

Since the very first journeys to Santiago de Compostela began over 1,000 years ago, the Way of St James has been articulated and celebrated in music. The vast Codex Calixtinus, dating from the 12th century, is a compendium of advice and instructions for pilgrims, sermons, reports of miracles, prayers and polyphonic motets. Over the years many concert programmes have been devised to relive the mediæval pilgrims’ journey in song, drawn from the codex and other sources, and new pieces have been composed which also reimagine the experience of travelling the Way of St James.

So the challenge with this piece was to try to say something new and worthwhile about the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela that hadn’t already been said. I didn’t want to write a literal account of the journey, a series of postcards from the pilgrimage route—today we are in Puente la Reina… tomorrow we reach Finisterre—for that has already been done and done very well. So while To the field of stars is about the pilgrimage to Santiago, it is also about journeying in a wider sense—the physical, emotional and psychological struggle to reach a long-sought after and life-changing goal.Read more

About the artists

Nonsuch Singers

High-quality singing, innovative programmes and communicative performances are the hallmarks of Nonsuch Singers. The choir has gained a reputation for stylistic versatility in a cappella and accompanied works ranging from the Renaissance to the present day. Concerts have featured a great many works by living British composers.

Founded in 1977, Nonsuch Singers owes its name to the location of its first—informal— rehearsal, held on the site of Nonsuch Palace. The choir of some 40 members typically gives six or seven concerts a year, regularly performing with some of the UK’s leading instrumental ensembles and nest young vocal soloists.

The choir has had four Music Directors over the course of its history: Garrett O’Brien (1977- 1981), Michael Hodges (1981-1996), Graham Caldbeck (1996-2012) and Tom Bullard, appointed in January 2013.

Highlights have included Monteverdi’s Vesperswith His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts at St Martin-in-the-Fields (recommended as ‘Critic’s Choice’ in the Times); a critically acclaimed concert of French Baroque works, edited by Lionel Sawkins, with an orchestra led by Catherine Mackintosh and soloists including Andrew Kennedy and Emma Kirkby; and the first complete modern performance of Joseph-Nicolas-Pancrace Royer’s opera, Zaïde, Reine de Grenade, celebrating the 300th anniversary of the composer’s birth. In 2017, the choir celebrated its 40th anniversary with a performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion in Southwark Cathedral.

Nonsuch Singers has given a number of world premieres, including John Tavener’s Exhortation and Kohima in the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall (televised) and Wild Ways, Roxanna Panufnik’s setting of Zen poems for double choir and shakuhachi (a Japanese flute). In October 2014, the choir was privileged to give the first UK performance of To the Field of Stars by Gabriel Jackson, and in 2016 released its first commercial recording, with Convivium Records, featuring To the Field of Stars alongside other pieces on the theme of stars and the heavens.

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Tom Bullard

Tom Bullard trained at King’s College, Cambridge, and enjoys a varied career as solo baritone, teacher, choral director and vocal coach, having studied singing with Russell Smythe. In January 2013, he was appointed Musical Director of Nonsuch Singers.

Recent solo performances have included Mozart Requiem, Vaughan Williams Five Mystical Songs, Haydn The Creation, Reich The Cave and Einhorn Voices of Light (with the LSO). Stage roles include Marcello in La Bohème, Jack Rance in La Fanciulla del West, Figaro in The Barber of Seville, and Dandini in La Cenerentola, as well as Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls and Anthony Hope in Sweeney Todd. Other highlights have included Berio’s Sinfonia with Antonio Pappano and the Accademia di Santa Cecilia at the BBC Proms, as well as with Zubin Mehta and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and the world premiere of Azio Corghi’s opera, ¿Pia?, at the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome.

From 2001, Tom spent eight years with The Swingle Singers, the last four as Musical Director. Under his direction, the group toured Europe, the USA, Asia and South America, and performed with some of the world’s nest orchestras and conductors. Tom’s own arrangements have been recorded on a number of The Swingle Singers albums and have proved popular with choirs and ensembles worldwide.

In addition to his post with Nonsuch Singers, Tom is Head of Singing at Eltham College, and also teaches singing at Westminster Under School, as well as working as a vocal coach for National Youth Music theatre. Recordings include several albums with the Choir of King’s College for EMI, and The Swingle Singers. He has also recorded MacMillan’s Since it was the Day of Preparation for Delphian, and was musical director for Nonsuch Singers’ debut album, To the Field of Stars, for Convivium.

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CD Booklet
  • O quam gloriosum est regnum - Tomas Luis de Victoria
  • To the field of Stars: i. Intrada - Gabriel Jackson
  • To the field of Stars: ii. Prayer for travelling - Gabriel Jackson
  • To the field of Stars: iii. Pilgrims’ Song with history lesson - Gabriel Jackson
  • To the field of Stars: iv. Walking with God - Gabriel Jackson
  • To the field of Stars: v. Miracles - Gabriel Jackson
  • To the field of Stars: vi. Our journey had advanced - Gabriel Jackson
  • To the field of Stars: vii. Campus Stellae (The field of stars) - Gabriel Jackson
  • To the field of Stars: viii. Compostela (O quam gloriosum) - Gabriel Jackson
  • O Morgenstern - Arvo Part
  • Vidi speciosam - Tomas Luis de Victoria
  • Creator of the stars of night - Gabriel Jackson
  • Laudibus in sanctis - William Byrd
  • Seek Him that maketh the seven stars - Jonathan Dove
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Catalogue number: CR032

Choir Nonsuch Singers
Cello Kate Gould
Organ Richard Pearce
Percussion George Barton, Stefan Beckett
Conductor Tom Bullard

Covert Artwork Catherine Barnes
Engineering Andrew Mellor
Editing Will Brown
Mastering Will Brown
Producer Adrian Peacock
Creative Director John Bevan
Executive Producer Adrian Green

Recorded 24, 25, 26 October, 2014
Venue St John’s, Upper Norwood, London
Total Duration 65 mins

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