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For Immediate Release


Works performed by the London Choral Sinfonia, conducted by Michael Waldron, with organist James Orford

NEW YORK, NY (August 22, 2023) – Orchid Classics releases Mirabilis: The Music of Stephen Hough, a recording showcasing the choral compositions of polymath Sir Stephen Hough, on September 15. Written between 2004 and 2019, the works on Mirabilis are primarily drawn from hymns and liturgical music, and are performed by the London Choral Sinfonia under conductor Michael Waldron, with organist James Orford.

In his own liner notes for Mirabilis, Sir Stephen writes that the first twenty years of his life were filled with composing, including a Mass in his teenage years “which might still be at the bottom of a drawer somewhere,” but he abandoned this particular passion for nearly twenty years afterward, focusing instead on his piano performance career. He returned to composition full force in his early forties; some of the works from that early composition renaissance appear on Mirabilis, including the a cappella song cycle December, four a cappella settings of poems celebrating the month from Advent to the New Year. Two of the songs in the cycle — “Hark the Herald” and “Silent Night” — feature newly composed music for the texts of well-known carols. “Ding Dong Merrily on High,” another classic carol, is given similar treatment on this album. 

The titular work on the album is Sir Stephen’s Missa Mirabilis, a 2007 commission for the Westminster Cathedral Choir. The Mass’s subtitle “Mirabilis” — meaning miraculous — arose from a miraculous event in Sir Stephen’s own life. He writes:

"In September 2006 I gathered together a year’s-worth of sketches for this Mass and wrote three of the movements in three days. The following day I had a serious car crash, overturning on the motorway at 80 mph. I stepped out of the one, untouched door in my completely mangled car with my Mass manuscript and my body intact, then wrote part of the Agnus Dei in St. Mary’s Hospital, waiting for four hours for a brain scan. I was conscious, as I was somersaulting with screeching metallic acrobatics on the M1, of feeling regret that I would never get to hear the music on which I’d been working so intensely in the days before. Someone had other ideas."

Since converting to Roman Catholicism at age 18, Sir Stephen has interrogated his faith and the relationship between the human and the divine in his writing and music. Missa Mirabilis’s core idea, expressed in the central Credo, explores the dichotomies between faith and doubt, innocence and experience. The subsequent Sanctus and Benedictus introduce similar contrasts, with the angelic and immense music of the former coming up against more intimate, earthly sounds of the latter. In the final Agnus Dei, Sir Stephen deliberately delays the long-awaited peace of the Dona Nobis Pacem, with additional hints of desperation and agitation from the organ and a return to the doubtful motives heard in the Credo, until the spell finally breaks and calm is restored.

Further explorations of faith on Mirabilis include Londinium, a dual-language setting of the Anglican Evensong Canticles that evokes the connections among the world’s three Abrahamic religions; Three Marian Hymns for upper voices, settings of ancient prayers to the Virgin Mary; and choral adaptations of "O Soft Self-Wounding Pelican” with original Latin text by St Thomas Aquinas rendered into Elizabethan verse by Richard Crashaw, and “Just As I Am,” from a poem by Charlotte Elliott. The latter song was commissioned by Robert Costlin of Ardingly College, who then commissioned Sir Stephen’s Sonatina for Organ: a short work with wide-ranging harmonic, structural, and rhythmic ideas that nod to Sir Stephen’s own keyboard virtuosity.

The album closes with Sir Stephen’s transcription of “Danny Boy”; in his words, “No possibility to change this tune, or to forget it.”

Michael Waldron, conductor of the London Choral Sinfonia, identifies Sir Stephen as one of his personal musical heroes. When Orchid Classics brought Waldron the idea of an album devoted to Hough’s compositions — the first album to exclusively feature them — he was thrilled by the concept and immediately dove into the scores. With Sir Stephen’s compositional output too large for a single album, Waldron muses in his sleeve note for Mirabilis about his hope for a second volume someday in the future.

Mirabilis was produced by Adrian Peacock, with engineer David Hinitt and recording manager Amy Hinds. It was recorded at St John the Evangelist, Islington, London, from April 17–20, 2023. 


Orchid Classics: ORC100256


Stephen Hough, Composer

London Choral Sinfonia

Michael Waldron, conductor

James Orford, organ

1.  Just as I am

Missa Mirabilis

2.  Kyrie

3.  Gloria

4.  Credo

5.  Sanctus

6.  Agnus Dei

7.  Londinium Magnificat

8.  Londinium Nunc dimittis

9.  Ding Dong Merrily on High


10.  Advent Calendar

11.  Hark, the Herald Angels Sing

12.  Silent Night

13.  The Gate of the Year

Three Marian Hymns

14.  O Sanctissima

15.  Salve Regina

16.  Ave Maria

17.  O soft self-wounding pelican


18.  I Allegretto tranquillo

19.  II Allegro giocoso

James Orford, organ

20.  Danny Boy


Named by The Economist as one of Twenty Living Polymaths, Sir Stephen Hough combines a distinguished career as a pianist with those of composer and writer. He was the first classical performer to be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the New Year Honours 2014, and was awarded a Knighthood for Services to Music in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2022.

He has performed extensively in recital and with most of the world’s major orchestras, and his catalog of around 70 albums has garnered four Grammy nominations, eight Gramophone Awards and France’s Diapason d’Or de l’Année. As a composer he has been commissioned by Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral, Wigmore Hall, the Gilmore Foundation, the Genesis Foundation, members of the Berlin Philharmonic amongst others. He wrote the commissioned work for the 2022 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, performed by all 30 competitors, and his String Quartet No.1 Les Six Rencontres, commissioned for the Takács Quartet, was recorded for Hyperion Records. His music is published by Josef Weinberger Ltd.

As an author, Hough’s memoir Enough: Scenes from Childhood was published by Faber & Faber in Spring 2023. It follows his 2019 collection of essays for Faber, Rough Ideas: Reflections on Music and More – a 2020 Royal Philharmonic Society Award winner and one of Financial Times’ Book of the Year 2019 – as well as his first novel, The Final Retreat (Sylph Editions, 2018). He has also been published by The New York Times, The Telegraph, The Times, and The Guardian. Hough is an Honorary Bencher of the Middle Temple, an Honorary Member of the Royal Philharmonic Society, and was a Visiting Fellow at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University from 2019 to 2022.


Formed in 2015, the LCS has established a reputation as one of the leading chamber choir and orchestral ensembles. A busy performance schedule throughout the year sees the group appearing at venues including Cadogan Hall, St Paul’s Cathedral, Kings Place and St John’s Smith Square.

Aside from many of the major cornerstones of the repertoire, the LCS also seeks to champion new music, having premiered new works and recordings with numerous composers including Tarik O’Regan, Owain Park, Richard Pantcheff and Ian Assersohn. Recent premieres include former Composer-in-Residence Oliver Rudland’s Christmas Truce, with a libretto by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

Recent performance highlights include Bach Jauchzet Gott with Katherine Watson (soprano) and Crispian Steele-Perkins (trumpet), Bach Motets and Cello Suites with Guy Johnston (cello), Mozart Exsultate Jubilate with Mary Bevan (soprano), Britten St Nicolas with Nick Pritchard (tenor), and Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem with Matthew Brook (baritone).

In addition to a busy concert schedule, the extensive LCS discography includes the three-volume collection of works for choir and orchestra by Richard Pantcheff and the award-winning Christmas album, O Holy Night. Their album, Colourise, featuring baritone Roderick Williams and tenor Andrew Staples, was released to critical acclaim. Described by Gramophone as ‘intensely moving’, the album reached over a million streams within the first months of its release. Sword in the Soul – released in April 2023 – was described as ‘beautifully judged’ (Gramophone) and ‘sublime’ (BBC Radio 3). Their latest double-disc release features many world-premiere recordings of works by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and was praised for its ‘fine recordings’ (The Sunday Times).


Michael is founder and Artistic Director of the London Choral Sinfonia (LCS), and has worked with many of the top choirs and orchestras in the UK and beyond, including the Philharmonia Orchestra, Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, Academy of Ancient Music, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Polyphony, London Mozart Players, Holst Singers and City of London Choir. He is Musical Director of Islington Choral Society, Artistic Director of London Lyric Opera and Musical Director of Epworth Choir.

His debut album release with the London Choral Sinfonia, O Holy Night, was selected by The Guardian as one of their top Christmas albums. Together with the LCS, he has since embarked on a multi-album project for Orchid Classics recording orchestral and choral music by Richard Pantcheff. Their album, Colourise, features a previously unrecorded cantata by Lennox Berkeley, and the first recording of Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs in an original chamber orchestration, featuring baritone Roderick Williams. Colourise was selected by The Times as one of their Best Albums of 2022.

Michael enjoy an extensive operatic career, including shows and projects for the Royal Opera House, English National Opera, Buxton International Festival, Opera Della Luna and West Green Opera.

Michael Waldron began his musical training as a chorister at St Ambrose College, Hale Barns. After a gap year Organ Scholarship at Worcester Cathedral, he held the Organ Scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge, for four years. Here he studied under Stephen Layton, during which time he was involved with the Choir’s numerous international tours, concerts, broadcasts and recordings.


James Orford is currently the Assistant Director of Music at St Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge having recently completed a year as the Acting College Organist and Head of Organ at Eton College. His past positions include being Organist in Residence at Westminster Cathedral, before which he was Organ Scholar at St Paul’s Cathedral. Previously, he held the Organ Scholarships at Truro Cathedral, the Royal Hospital Chelsea, and King’s College, London. He studied with Bine Bryndorf and David Titterington at the Royal Academy of Music, obtaining top marks in both his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. He was awarded the Duchess of Gloucester’s award for exemplary studentship upon completion of his undergraduate course, and was subsequently awarded one of the Academy’s prestigious Bicentenary Scholarships for his Master’s degree.

James enjoys a busy performing schedule and has given recitals and concerts in many of the UK’s most notable venues and at a number of major festivals. In 2021, his debut solo album – a complete organ transcription of Vivaldi’s L’estro Armonico – was released on the Linn Record Label. He appears on several other discs as both an organist and pianist. These include collaborations with the London Choral Sinfonia, and the Chapel Choirs of the Royal Hospital Chelsea and King’s College, London. Last year, he recorded a brand new organ concerto by Richard Pantcheff and was the pianist for a recording of Vaughan William’s strings and piano version of the Five Mystical Songs, with Roderick Williams as the soloist.