05/12/13 - Konzertsaal Der Wiener Sängerknaben

Time: 7:30 PM

Date: 05/12/13


Konzertsaal Der Wiener Sängerknaben

MuTh – The Vienna Boys’ Choir Concert Hall, Obere Augartenstrasse 1E, 1020 Vienna

David Fisher - Konzertsaal Der Wiener Sängerknaben

David Fisher - Konzertsaal Der Wiener Sängerknaben

David Fisher - Konzertsaal Der Wiener Sängerknaben

Other Information:

A request from the CCA website from the Wiener Sängerknaben for contact with me and then a phone call from Vienna confirmed that not only is my carol “Mary Laid Her Child” being performed by the Vienna Boys’ Choir at the Konzertsaal der Wiener Sängerknaben [MuTh] on the 5th, 6th & 7th December 2013 – the last date being my birthday – but they have recorded the work and it may be released on the second edition of their most recent DVD. It was also great to note that the piece was performed by one of the choirs on their tour of USA in 2012 in many venues around the States including the Symphony Hall, Chicago. All this from a work which I wrote as a teenager and which the Vienna Boys’ Choir sang over 40 years ago on their British and Australasian tours. 

This is the programme note from the Leicester Cathedral Legacy Concert:

Mary Laid Her Child 

This carol for Christmas or Easter is dedicated to Peter White & Leicester Cathedral Choir and is published by Roberton Publications. First performed by the Vienna Boys’ Choir under Anton Neyder at Gloucester Cathedral in 1972 and then in dozens of cathedral and chapels in the UK and Australasia. It can be performed with or without organ accompaniment and it is the latter version heard this evening. Other notable performances have been at Leicester Cathedral under Peter White; Chichester Cathedral in 1982 under Alan Thurlow [Assistant Organist at Durham Cathedral when I was at Durham University]. The carol was recorded a cappella on CD by Kingfisher Chorale in 1999 and more recently by the Roder Jongenskoor on their CD releasedin November 2011. Rintje te Wies, the Musical Director, writes in the CD notes: "Mary laid her child is an especially atmospheric work in which a beautiful modal melody is heard in unison in the first verse and is followed by two and three voice settings, culminating in the six voice final verse with its exuberant final chord. The organ part provides the interludes which bind the work together."


This is the projected programme note for the concerts:

David John Fisher (*1952)

Carol (Mary Laid Her Child)

Text: Norman Cornthwaite Nicholson (1914 – 1987)

David Fisher was born in Northumberland and educated in Leicester. A chorister at Leicester Cathedral, Fisher received his first composition lessons from the cathedral’s Master of the Music at the age of eleven. He later went studied music at the College of the Venerable Bede, Durham University. For thirty-six years, he was Head of Music and later Head of the Performing Arts Faculty at a Leicestershire college. In 1992, he founded Kingfisher Chorale, which has gone on to become one of the leading chamber choirs in the UK. In addition to Kingfisher Chorale, he has conducted Derby Choral Union and the Leicester Bach Choir. At the première of his orchestral work Augsburg Elegy in Bavaria, David Fisher also directed Dame Emma Kirkby, James Gilchrist, Alan Ewing, the Michaelsteiner Kammerchor and the Batzdorfer Hofkapelle.

David Fisher writes mainly sacred choral music. Among his works are anthems, a setting of the Mass ordinary, and a Requiem. He is currently the only contemporary composer to have written a full-scale cantata for Dame Emma Kirkby and an authentic C18th orchestra. He has won awards, and several of his compositions have been released on CD.

His carol was initially written for Peter White and Leicester Cathedral Choir. In 1972, the Vienna Boys´ Choir asked Fisher to arrange the piece for them, and the choir first performed this version in Gloucester Cathedral on 4 October in the same year. The first verse is unisono. Fisher adds a second and third voice in the following verses. The final stunning verse is sung in six parts.

Norman Nicholson’s straightforward text deals with miracles worked by Christ simply by being, and has inspired several composers. There are settings by John McCabe, Francis Pott, and Nigel Waugh.


Mary laid her Child among The bracken fronds of night

And by the glimmer round his head All the barn was lit


Mary held her Child above The miry, frozen farm

And by the fire in his limbs The resting roots were warm


Mary hid her Child between Hillocks of hard sand

By singing water in his veins Grass sprang from the ground.


Mary nursed her Child beside The gardens of a grave

And by the death within his bones The dead became alive