Directing the music at St. Paul's Cathedral in London can be a tall order as tall as the building itself. "St. Paul's as a building is unique in the U.K. because of the style in which it's built, with its great dome and its classical architecture with references to the Renaissance," explains Andrew Carwood, Director of Music at St. Paul's. "The dome is 365 feet high. [Architect] Christopher Wren wanted the dome to be as tall as there are days in the year."
It's a fitting venue for a cathedral that hosts so many vital, public events, such as state funerals and public events involving Britain's royal family. "We do these very large-scale emotive services," Carwood says, "and I think it helps the musical philosophy of the choir."
Carwood, now in his eighth year at St. Paul's, leads the St. Paul's Cathedral Choir, composed of 27 singing boys and 12 professional men. As choir director, Carwood says he simply encourages the boys to sing as well as they can. "That means their posture being good and their breathing and the placement of their voice," he says. "Really, singing tuition is about freeing up the voice, getting rid of anything that inhibits it anything that gets in the way so the voice is free and can speak for itself."
The St. Paul's Cathedral Choir, led by Carwood, will visit St. Paul, Minn., on Tuesday, April 28, for a concert at that city's Cathedral of St. Paul.
Although Carwood says his free, open and musical sound is "not terribly English," he has assembled a repertoire for the Minnesota concert that highlights some of England's touchstone composers and works, including 16th-century pieces by Thomas Tallis and William Byrd, on up to more recent works commissioned for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and Golden Jubilee.
Listen to the complete interview above to hear more about Andrew Carwood's work, about St. Paul's Cathedral in London, and about the types of events and music performed by the choir there and on its upcoming tour.