Alex Woolf


Reformation 500: Premiere of 'Come and See' in NYC

I'm very excited to be heading to New York for the premiere of Come and See at the Cathedral of St John the Divine! Come and See is a big anthem for 2 choirs and organ, commissioned by the Metropolitan New York Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America to mark the 500th anniversary of the 1517 Reformation.

The anthem is a setting of wonderful, evocative text by Andrew Nurkin, a newly-commissioned poem which reflects on Psalm 46; this psalm was the source of Martin Luther's 'Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott', which of course is the basis for Bach's Cantata 80 (and countless more music – the finale of Mendelssohn's 5th, for instance...). Just as Luther's text paraphrases this psalm for the purposes of the newly reformed church, Nurkin's text considers the significance of its words 500 years on and their resonance in the contemporary world. It's an incredibly powerful text, and has been a privilege to set.

I've tried to capture the scope and scale not only of the text but also of the setting and occasion: St John the Divine is the largest Anglican cathedral in the world (and the 4th-largest church of any kind),  and I've had more than 100 singers, a legendary Great Organ, and a cavernous acoustic to play with... To be able to paint on such a vast canvas is inordinately thrilling, and I've been keen to take full advantage of these massive forces, mindful too of the huge significance of this moment in time for so many people. I'm beyond grateful for the tremendous amount of work that has already gone into preparing this piece, and it's a dream to be able to come and experience the whole event in person!

The Festive Eucharist commences at 5.30pm EST (9.30pm GMT) on November 1st and will be broadcast live on Facebook – I'll be sure to post a link to this nearer the time!

St John the Divine interior.jpg