On 13 October Sofi Jeannin leads the combined forces of the BBC Singers, New Young Voice Collective, and United Strings of Europe in the UK premiere of Morten Lauridsen’s most recent choral work Ave Verum Corpus at London’s Milton Court Concert Hall. 

The 10-minute motet is scored for SATB chorus, strings, and finger cymbals. Chimes from the latter begin Lauridsen’s setting of the traditional eucharistic antiphon, accompanying the opening plainchant for the lower voices. A lush sequence follows for combined strings and whole choir, growing in harmonic and textural richness as voice and string parts divide. The plainchant returns in the penultimate section – ‘O sacrum convivium’ – before an intensely lyrical and passionate Alleluia closes the piece.

Ave Verum Corpus can also be performed with organ. It was commissioned by Wheaton College to inaugurate its new Armerding Center for Music and the Arts, where it received its world premiere from the Wheaton College Choir conducted John William Trotter in March 2022.

Lauridsen’s choral music will also receive London performances from St. Martin’s Voices and conductor Andrew Earis this autumn at St. Martin-in-the-Fields. On 3 October they perform Lauridsen’s Nocturnes (2005) as part of their Night Songs programme with pianist Jocelyn Freeman. The 15-minute work for SATB chorus and piano is a triptych of settings of Rilke, Neruda, and James Agee; it has been recorded by numerous choirs including Vox Humana and the Chamber Choir of Europe. On 12 September Earis and St. Martin’s Voices also performed a movement from another Rilke setting by Lauridsen: ‘La Rose complète’ from Les Chansons des roses (1995). ‘Dirait-on’, The fifth movement of the cycle, is among the best-selling choral octavos of all time.

‘Dirait-on’ is one of a number of Lauridsen works to have been recently championed by US violinist Anne Akiko Myers. It appears in a version for violin and piano, alongside a version of another much-loved choral work, ‘Sure On This Shining Night’ on her album ‘Shining Night’. Listen here. She has also recorded two versions of O magnum mysterium - the violin and orchestra version (with Philharmonia Orchestra and Kristjan Järvi), and the version for violin and SATB chorus (with Los Angeles Master Chorale and Grant Gershon).