Matthew King: Settings of Tindale

Dives and Lazarus
Following a commission from the Park Lane Group in 1993 to provide a new vocal work for their Young Artist's concert series at the Purcell Room in January 1994, I decided that a parable from the New Testament would fit very well into their 15 minute requirement, and Tyndale's marvellously rich translation of this astonishing story from Luke was ideal for my purposes. I set the text like a miniature oratorio with a very specific musical context for each of the characters in the story, all sung by one soprano — Anne Sheridan in the first performance. The piano part pays an elaborate homage to the keyboard style of various Tudor composers, in order to underpin Tyndale's text with an appropriate musical vocabulary. Needless to say, the piece strives very hard to avoid pastiche!

Selkirk is an ongoing project with the poet Nick Drake, whom I met at an even it called Opera Lab 94 at Bore Place, near Tunbridge Wells. Various composers and librettists were invited to collaborate, over a week and a half, on a project of their choice, and we began a rather metaphysical piece about Alexander Selkirk (the original Robinson Crusoe) marooned on a desert island with nothing but a bible and a few cooking utensils. The idea of a new kind of vocabulary emerging in Selkirk's mind (with nothing but scripture to keep him company) led us to the marvellous rough-hewn, elemental sonority of Tyndale's translation. We used his version of Hebrews 11 as the basis for a dialogue with an angel about the nature of Faith.

Jonah is a large-scale children's opera commissioned by the Canterbury Festival for October 1996, when it is scheduled to be performed in the Cathedral. Collaborating with Michael Irwin, Professor of English at Kent University, we have chosen Tyndale's beautiful version of the book as our model for rhythm, syntax and poetic expression.

A Letter from John
This is a short setting of 1 John chapter 1 in Tyndale's translation, written for amateur singer/s with piano. The work is available either as a solo arioso or duet, price 12.00 from the composer. The style is highly accessible!

To explain briefly my fascination with Tyndale, I find his achievement profound on every level. He was a giant in three remarkable areas; biblical scholarship, poetry and faith. Men of his stature are rare in any generation, it seems to me.

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