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Q&A with Gareth Treseder

We are delighted to have published a major new anthem by Gareth Treseder for SATB double choir and organ, Come, and let us return unto the Lord. Following on from our recent video interview, Gareth has kindly agreed to be our first guest in an occasional composer “Q&A” series, sharing insights with us from his life as a composer and professional singer.

Full details of Come, and let us return unto the Lord are available below, along with a link to view a sample of Gareth’s setting and to listen to an excellent performance of the piece sung by the choir of Temple Church, London, in a BBC Radio 3 Choral Evensong broadcast.

I understand that Treseder is a Cornish name and yet you describe yourself as Welsh. Can you please explain this apparent anomaly?

Treseder is indeed of Cornish origin, and one of many variants including “Tresoder” and “Tressider”. In the mid-nineteenth century, my branch of the Treseders moved from Cornwall to Cardiff and established the “Stephen Treseder and Sons” nursery, and I was born in Swansea.

Which 4 musicians (from the present or from the past) would you most like to invite to a dinner party?

  • Johann Sebastian Bach – an awe-inspiring musical figure and a huge influence on my own writing.
  • Franz Joseph Haydn – hopefully his great musical wit would influence his dinner banter.
  • Laura Mvula – a multi-talented contemporary musician and lovely person, whose choral arrangement of her own Sing to the Moon is a joy to perform.
  • Paul Simon – I would thank him for writing Song for the Asking to which my wife and I danced at our wedding.

What is your favourite meal before a concert? 

As there isn’t normally much time between a rehearsal and the concert, I will often buy a supermarket meal deal.

What is your favourite meal/drink after a concert?

Steak, chips and peas, with a celebratory pint of cider as I unwind with my friends.

What has been your most testing moment as a singer?

When singing Orfeo’s Echo in Monteverdi’s opera at Carnegie Hall, for which I had two minutes to travel to the top level of audience seating to sing, someone chose that moment to occupy the lift that I desperately needed to use. Running up eight flights of stairs, I breathlessly arrived at my spot one second before my first entry.

Are there any composers or musical styles that you just don’t like? 

As a tenor, I do not enjoy any composition where the tessitura is very high for minutes on end! For instance, Barber’s Adagio for Strings (1936) is a sublime work. However, the composer’s subsequent Agnus Dei (1967) sits largely within the extremes of the vocal range for eight minutes of sustained slow music, which as a choir member is exhausting to rehearse, let alone perform.

If you can remember back to a time before you had three children – a 5-year-old and 2-year-old twins – did you have any hobbies outside music?

On a much more regular basis than I do now, I went jogging, training for 10K runs and, on one occasion, a half-marathon. I thoroughly enjoy playing board and card games, specifically Carcassonne and Dominion. When I was based in Swansea, I would often play golf and go to the cinema on a fortnightly basis.

What was your ambition when you were aged 9?

When I was 9 or 10, I wanted to be an actor on stage or TV. Nothing matched the feeling of performing in a school production in front of my parents, having to improvise when someone forgot their line. Given my love of cinema, I also wanted to be a film critic, and even now I hugely enjoy the insightful reviews offered by Mark Kermode, Robbie Collin and the late great Roger Ebert.

And finally, cat-lover or dog-lover?

I love cats and dogs, having been very fortunate to have had both when I was a child. However, in my experience one can rely more upon a dog for loyal companionship.

 

Thank you, Gareth, for taking the time to answer our questions.

Come, and let us return unto the Lord is available to purchase either as a printed title by post, or as a digital download with a single or 30-copy print licence. Follow the link to view a sample and to listen to an excellent performance of the piece sung by the Temple Church Choir, London, in a BBC Radio 3 Choral Evensong broadcast.

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