The Pepys Motet

The Pepys Motet - Movement 4: The Great Fire

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The Pepys Motet - Movement 4: The Great Fire

A six movement, unaccompanied, 40-part motet based on Samuel Pepys’ Diary, written to celebrate the 350th anniversary of Pepys putting pen to paper to begin his masterpiece.

Written February-August 2010, and commissioned by St Olave’s Church, Pepys’ Church, the work was funded by Arts Council England, The London Mayor, Philip Carne and Mike Gresk.

Running time 30’.

The whole gangFirst performed on November 25th, 2010, at St Olave’s Church.
Conducted by the composer and performed in a double bill with Oranges and Lemons.

Movement 4 was broadcast on Radio 4 on November 24th, 2010.

Movement One: 1660
Movement Two: 1661-4
Movement Three: The Great Plague (1665)
Movement Four: The Great Fire of London (1666)
Movement Five: Deb Willet (1667-8)
Movement Six: 1669

The work is scored for 8 choirs, each of whom represents a different vocal tradition and sings texts pertaining to different aspects of Pepys’ life.

Benjamin with the Navy BoysPerformers:
Choir 1 (Gospel): Abbie Jones, Ruth Pule, Mariana Marval/ Julie Clare, Stephen Weller, Henry Lawry
Choir 2 (Early music) Rebecca Shanks, Emily Walker, Sam Hiller, Simon Lytton, David Gregory
Choir 3 (Folk) Nicola Harrison/Fiona Brice, Jane McArthur, Ildiko Kerek, Jonathan Staples, Johnny Mindlin
Choir 4 (Musical theatre) Emma Sewell, Alice Keedwell, Jana Skene, Jamie Anderson, Nathan Taylor
Choir 5 (Opera) Hilary Selby, Sera Ann Baines, Fiona Williams, Ian Massa Harris, Justin Harmer
Choir 6 (Magdalene College, Cambridge) Isabella Gage, Catherine Sampson, Katherine Maddocks, Richard Mayer, Matthew Sampson
Choir 7 (Royal Navy) Sub Lieutenant Dave Farrow, Officer Cadet Alex Halliday, Officer Cadet Henry Chin, Sub Lieutenant Dave Harwood/ Sub Lieutenant Andy Davey, Sub Lieutenant Ben Costley-White
Choir 8 (Pure voices) Katherine Shirley, Deirdre Matthews, Karen Moore/ Michelle Smith, Sanjay Manohar/Beata Kabiri, Deborah Murrell/ Felicity Hayward

It is, by far, the most ambitious and complicated piece of music Benjamin has written and it was an almost impossible task to bring 40 singers together from so many different backgrounds and locations.

He is particularly grateful for the roles the Royal Navy and Magdalene College, Cambridge, played in the piece.

A recording of all but the second movement was made at DIN Studios, Limehouse, London by Julian Simmons, during September and October 2010.


Photos show the whole choir, and Benjamin with the Navy Boys.