Peterborough Cathedral Choir: the Stanley Vann Years

(Page under development. I hope to add to this page from time to time during 2017)


Please note that these samples are much-mauled, having in some cases originated in an off-air recording on to cassette or open-reel tape, been stored (and played!) for a long time, possibly re-recorded on to CD, converted to .WAV and finally MP3 format! (The last stage, to reduce the filesize both for storage within the limits of the file hosts/packages used and for more speedy download, unfortunately also degrades the quality.) Hopefully, you will at least be able to get a flavour of the music!

If you happen to visit this page, do please let me know if you find anything doesn't work with your setup. I have tested the page on Windows, Android and iOS- based systems using various browsers. (You can e-mail me at the address on the Publishers page). I intend to put further samples on this page from time to time.

Except where otherwise noted, all the following samples are sung by Peterborough Cathedral Choir under Stanley's direction. Click on the sample you wish to hear. An mp3 player should open for you: you can then return to this page if you wish by clicking your browser's "Back" button

Early 1954

Stanley took over as Master of the Music right at the end of 1953 (between Christmas & the new year). In a 1999 interview with Barry Ferguson (written up in "Choir & Organ", Stanley says "The first thing my predecessor had said to me was "I'm afraid I've left you with an awful choir." He was candid about this, and it was true; the two top choristers were 16 and 15 years of age. the next only 12 and 11, the top two doing all the singing."

This recording dates either from very early in 1954 (immediately after his arrival - possibly a pre-existing commitment which he "inherited"?) or possibly late 1953, just before he took over. Either way, it gives a good indication of how the choir sounded when he arrived.

O come, ye servants of the Lord (Tye) , missing start, from a series of eight 78s made for the Church of England Children's Society

Feb 1954

These recordings are from 78rpm recordings of a Choral Evensong broadcast on 10th February - just over a month after Stanley's arrival.

Psalms 53, 54 and start of 55 Chants: Rimbault, Holden, Vann.

Prayer to Jesus (Oldroyd)


It would be very interesting to follow the development of the choir during this period, but unfortunately I have no recordings. If anyone reading this has a recording from this era, and can provide a copy, I would be delighted! Immediately after his arrival, Stanley drastically reduced the repertoire, preferring to work on quality rather than quantity. He concentrated on voice production, tonal quality (the "head voice"), quiet singing, listening to one another, blending, balance, choral ensemble, expression, diction etc.

Jul 1958

Psalms 114, 115 Chants: Vann.

Plainsong: Office hymn "O Blest Creator" (EH51) A very rare recording in which Stanley accompanies plainsong!

O pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Howells)

Sept 1959

Out of the deep (Batten)

Tomkins 5th service Can anyone identify the treble soloists please?

Jan 1960

O pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Blow) (Recording fades out because of increasing wow.) Can anyone identify the treble soloist please?

May 1964

Plainsong: Office hymn "Eternal Monarch" (EH141)

Dec 1966 (Added 30/11/15)

Nunc Dimitis (Weelkes) Can anyone identify the treble soloist please?

Alleluia (Weelkes)

Oct 1969 (Added 4/12/15)

Psalms 108, 109 Chants: Ferguson, Keeton, Vann, Soaper.

Oct 1972 (Added 4/12/15)

Psalms 22, 23 Chants: Battishill, Vann, Elvey.

Plainsong: Office hymn "O Blest Creator" (EH51)

Mar 1977 (Added 4/12/15)

Plainsong: Office hymn "The royal banners" (EH94)



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