Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols (King’s College, Cambridge): Gabriel Jackson – The Christ-child (World Première)

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The tradition of commissioning a new carol each year for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at King’s College, Cambridge, continued in 2009, with the renowned choral composer Gabriel Jackson chosen this year. His carol, The Christ-child,  uses an interesting text by G. K. Chesterton (The Christ-child lay on Mary’s lap), alternating external observations with parenthetical reflections. Jackson picks up the contrast (each parenthesis ending in soft humming), but placing it within a gradually intensifying context, with the key words “light”, “star”, “fire” and “crown” given especial emphasis; it’s a very successful setting, although the ending feels a little laboured, perhaps even forced (from the composer, not the choir).

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