Premiere of The Story of St Alban

Children from three junior schools will join St Albans Choral Society on Sunday 12 July for world premiere performances of a work about the life of St Alban, Britain’s first Christian martyr in Roman times.

The children from Bowmansgreen, St Bernadette Catholic and Fleetville junior schools play “chirpy pagans” in the dramatic choral work, which the Society commissioned from composer Liz Lane and librettist Andy Rashleigh.

The project is part of the choir’s exciting community outreach programme and aims to give the children a unique musical opportunity and encourage them to become the choral singers of the future. They have been learning their parts in The Story of St Alban with the help of choral animateur Jo McNally (see photo below).

Alban was a citizen of the Roman town of Verulamium and gave shelter to a Christian priest, Amphibalus, who was being hounded for his faith. Alban took the priest’s place when Roman soldiers arrived to arrest him. Refusing to make offerings to the Roman gods, and declaring his Christian faith, he was put to death. Amphibalus was also later caught and executed.

“When writing The Story of St Alban, I was surprised how few people I talked to knew of the tale behind his sainthood,” says Liz, a former primary schoolteacher. “I hope this new work will help bring to light this important figure.”

Baritone Michael Bundy sings the part of Alban, and the choir provides the commentating chorus in a variety of roles, culminating in the final movement, a setting of The Alban Prayer. The narrator is Andy Rashleigh, a writer/actor who was on the writing team for The Archers for many years. George Vass conducts the choirs and Orchestra Nova Ensemble.

The choir will also perform the five beautiful Spirituals from Michael Tippett’s moving oratorio A Child of Our Time.

The performances take place at 5pm and 7pm at the Weston Auditorium, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield. Tickets are available at £12 (£1 children) from SACS ticket line on 07884 231958 or Weston Auditorium box office on 01707 281127.