I was inspired to write this work after visiting Torre Abbey, an English monastery dating from 1196, which is now little more than a shell.
On the fractured arch of the chancel I found an eighteenth century stone plaque, a poem by the Reverend Joseph Reeve that pays homage to the abbey ruins. Over time, this plaque has itself become a ruin, so badly weathered down one side that only parts of the verse remain legible. The elements had somehow bridged the six hundred year divide between the observer and the observed, leaving me acutely aware that our own endeavours will all too soon be eroded to dust.
How Great, How Fall'n was composed in response to a call for works from the John Armitage Memorial Concert Trust. It was one of only three compositions selected for performance that year. The première took place at Church of St Brides, Fleet St, and was subsequently heard at Church of St Mary, Cambridge and Church of St Cuthbert, Edinburgh.
The recording included on this page is from the St Brides première on 18th March 2004, with the following forces:
Claire Seaton: Soprano
Andrew Watts: Alto
Dan Ludford-Thomas: Tenor
Michael Wallace: Baritone
Daniel Hyde: Organ
The Chapel Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge
Sarah MacDonald: Conductor
Edward Armitage: Producer
Daniel Wiener: Recording Engineer