I thought diary readers would be interested in a new piece of music that’s been commissioned to celebrate 350 years of the diary, in association with Pepys’ local church, St Olave’s. Here are the details:

St Olave’s Church are commissioning composer Benjamin Till to help them celebrate 350 years of Pepys’ Diary with a major new choral work. Benjamin is planning to write a 40-part motet; a choral work with 40 individual parts based entirely on passages from the great work. His starting point is Tallis’ Spem In Alium but the Pepys work will feature singers from a huge range of choral backgrounds from opera to gospel, each representing a different aspect of Pepys’ character.

Benjamin started a blog on January 1st and would love Pepys fans to have a read. It’s about the project, and what Pepys was up to 350 years ago to the day. At the moment he’s in the process of selecting passages and needs feedback!

The Pepys work will be performed alongside Benjamin’s Oranges and Lemons, which was performed for the first time last year. This work features every bell in every church mentioned in the longer version of the famous nursery rhyme (200 separate bells, 17 churches). He had to climb into dangerous belfries in order to record them — and nearly died twice! The bells are accompanied by a choir of people who live or work within earshot of one of the churches. You can hear this work here. This might give you a bit of a taste of what’s to come with the Pepys Motet!

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