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First St John’s release reaches #2 in classical charts

The debut release on the new St John’s Cambridge recording label has entered the official classical music charts at number 2, amid widespread critical acclaim.

Entitled Deo, the release is a collection of music composed by the renowned international composer and late College Fellow, Jonathan Harvey, and performed by the Choir of St John’s College. It is available to purchase now online, or at Heffer’s bookshop in Cambridge.

The recording is the first on the brand new St John’s Cambridge label, an imprint on Signum Classics which was launched earlier this year. The label will be used to release music by both the College Choir – which has a large international following and is widely regarded as one of the finest choirs of its kind – and by the world-class musicians among the college’s students and alumni. Its overall artistic direction is determined entirely by the College and in particular by its Director of Music, Andrew Nethsingha.

Deo is a collection of sacred works by Harvey, including two pieces written specifically for the Choir, and several pieces which have been recorded for the first time. Harvey, who died in 2012, was both a student and Honorary Fellow of St John’s, and was regarded as one of the leading composers of his generation, as well as one of the most influential. His work was frequently highly experimental, and influenced by spiritual themes.

The recording was completed in just five days in the College Chapel last year. In the notes accompanying the CD, Nethsingha reflects: “Our journey of exploration of this music has been the most important and satisfying part of my musical career to date.”

Deo has also received extensive praise from critics. Simon Toyne, the leading conductor and choir trainer, has called it “staggering”, adding: “One of the most significant choral recordings of recent times?” The Observer’s review meanwhile says: “Harvey used to describe music coming out of silence and dissolving back into it. It’s a good starting point. The Choir of St John’s tackles all with confidence and clarity.”

The next planned release on St John’s Cambridge will feature music for Advent and Christmas, including both traditional and contemporary works. For more information about both the Choir and its work, visit: http://www.sjcchoir.co.uk/