Cirencester Parish Church
Philip Lancaster’s intimate War Passion, commissioned for the Three Choirs festival, avoids grand gestures but suffered from poor acoustics
Gloucester is the host city for this year’s Three Choirs festival. As usual, the cathedral is the hub of everything, but there are concerts around the county, too, and the premiere of the first festival commission of the week, Philip Lancaster’s War Passion, took place 20 miles away in Cirencester, at a concert given by the St Cecilia Singers and the Bristol Ensemble, conducted by Jonathan Hope.
As well as being a composer, Lancaster is well known for his research on early 20th-century British music and poetry, especially the work of the Gloucester-born Ivor Gurney. It was while he was studying Isaac Rosenberg’s poem The Tower of Skulls that he conceived the idea for a choral piece in which poems from the first world war became a commentary on a retelling of the New Testament passion story.