Review of Stopford Choral Workshop

Review of Stopford Choral Workshop

By Darlene James

Despite a very cold winter morning, there was a good turnout for Philip Stopford’s choral workshop on Saturday, February 3, at St. James’s Episcopal Church in West Hartford. Vaughn Mauren accompanied an excellent group of singers from Yale, as Philip conducted 13 anthems and gave us insights into his commissions, orchestrations, phrasing, composing and publishing.

Philip is a very lively, personable 40 year old who is Director of Music at Christ Church in Bronxville, NY. (He says his mother is relieved he has a full time job.) The program began with In My Father’s House, which is also the title of his newest CD. For this commission, he was given the text and a request that there be a refrain. Although knowing something about the organ, the choristers and the church he is composing for is a plus, he cautions that if there are too many specifics, making a piece very personal, it is probable that it will not have universal appeal and will be difficult to market. He began this piece by composing the refrain and then filled in the verses. He also demonstrated how he sets a text. He advises to keep it simple; “less is more.” He wants his compositions to be accessible to most choirs.

He was first published by Hal Leonard in the US. His works are now available from Morningstar, Hal Leonard, and He spoke briefly about financial arrangements with publishers.

The program was over all too soon, as the two hours sped by; beautiful music with great voices, lots of laughs and honest insight into the world of composing and Philip Stopford.

Anthems sung at Philip Stopford workshop:
Morning Star Music
Teach Me, O Lord
O Thou Who Camest From Above
Do Not Be Afraid
Christ the Lord is Risen Again
The Spirit of the Lord
In My Father’s House
Christ is Our Cornerstone
Ubi Caritas
The Chorister Prayer
Psalm 150
There Is No RoseHal Leonard
A Christmas Blessing