Coales' Notes: Time gentleman, please: Voices unite: Gordon Coales organises an unlikely Christmas collaboration

TUESDAY: Head down, I have decided, for the time being (putting aside all other problems) to devote myself to getting this one project through. It's looking very good on paper:

'NEW CHORAL WORK FOR CHRISTMAS - COMPOSER INSPIRED BY 'REGULARS' FROM LOCAL PUB. On 24 December 1993, as part of its Christmas Eve Midnight Service, St Dennis's Church, with Ars Longa, present the world premiere of GOAT CHORALES by Augustine Beeson.

'The music of Augustine Beeson is no stranger to the use of unusual sources. His massive piece for orchestra, Jamming - the hit of the 1988 Proms - was a two-hour variation on the old Albanian jamming signal, once such a familiar sound to listeners of Radio 3 medium wave. Now, with Goat Chorales, Beeson has done it again.

'The composer explains: 'The Goat in question is my local, in fact it's just over the road from my flat - and at turning-out time on Friday and Saturday nights, while lying in bed, it has often become impossible for me to ignore the voices rising from the street below. A form of song this certainly is, but strikingly free from conventional musical values and structures. So often, the melodic line seems to hover like a distant memory beneath the emphatically foregrounded texture and timbre of the voices; sometimes a solo voice will break away into quite a different direction; sometimes a succession of loud crashes establishes an intermittent counter-rhythm. And although these sounds proved intractable to any precise notation - Messiaen himself, I believe, would have put down his pen in despair - after many months, I realised I had absorbed them into my nervous system. As a composer, I felt impelled to respond.'

'Beeson evolved the piece - a setting of seven traditional carols - in close cooperation with regulars from The Goat. It is a loosely structured work, allowing for a wide margin of improvisation. We are convinced that Goat Chorales, is destined to join the long line of English Christmas choral favourites.

'St Dennis's is well-known for its longstanding commitment to new and live music. Ars Longa and Augustine Beeson are especially proud to have this opportunity of participating in its Christmas Eve Service.'

All we have to do now is square it with the rector.

THURSDAY: I met Beeson in the church cafe. I told him I thought it best to introduce the concept quite gradually - the great thing was to emphasise 'world premiere'. Then the rector joined us.

He was much taken with the title. 'The goat. Now the goat, I have often felt, is an animal perhaps unfairly excluded from the Christmas story, as it has come down to us - but whom we should also welcome to the manger.'

I stressed that St Dennis's would be host to the world premiere of the work - we were hoping to get the Radio 3 Music In Our Time people along; there might even be the chance of a recording. He said: 'How marvellous. And one could say, how appropriate. Because the birth of Christ was itself, as it were, a world premiere - the world premiere to end all world premieres.' It seemed the moment to take the plunge.

We carefully outlined the idea of the piece to him. He nodded deeply. Then he said to Beeson: 'Well, how marvellous, and also how appropriate, at this season of great festivity, and great revel, that your drinking companions from over the way will be, as it were, amongst us - in spirit.'

There was an exchange of glances. I said no, the idea actually was that they would be amongst us, as it were, in person - in the church. Beeson added: 'The men would be 40-strong, roughly.' The rector eyed us beadily. We grinned. Then he said: 'Ah. How . . . tremendous. So - and will they have had a drink?'

I said it was no good there being any misunderstanding about this. The men would be fresh from a night at the pub. It was intrinsic to the conception of this work for Christmas Eve that it should be performed by an amateur choir who were, not to put too fine a point on it, to a man, fighting drunk. He kept his face remarkably well.

Beeson came in: 'But I think Gordon has raised an important question here. Because after closing time, the men plan to process on foot through the streets between The Goat and St Dennis's. Now the distance I have calculated at one and three-quarter miles. And we can expect the night air to be cold. So there is this logistical point. It may be necessary for the men to have a 'top up', on their arrival in the church.'

I added that of course Ars Longa would undertake to supply as much drink as might be required here. The rector replied: 'Yes. Well I daresay we shall all need one.' But I think he likes it.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
This year's Big Brother champion Helen Wood
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Full company in Ustinov's Studio's Bad Jews
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Harari Guido photographed Kate Bush over the course of 11 years
Music
Arts and Entertainment
Reviews have not been good for Jonathan Liebesman’s take on the much loved eighties cartoon
Film

A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend

Arts and Entertainment
Untwitterably yours: Singer Morrissey has said he doesn't have a twitter account
Music

A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album

Arts and Entertainment
Full throttle: Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Turturro in God's Pocket
film
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie Minogue is expected to return to Neighbours for thirtieth anniversary special
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment