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The Pepys Motet – World Premiere at St Olave’s 25 November 2010

(Last Updated: 18-10-2010)

The world première of The Pepys Motet will take place at St Olave’s at 6.30 (with a second performance and 8.30pm) on 25 November 2010.










Marking the 350th anniversary of Samuel Pepys’s putting pen to paper to write his world-famous diary, the composition is written by Benjamin Till. St Olave’s is the final resting place of Pepys, of his wife, Elizabeth, and of one of his brothers, John. Pepys lived and worked in the parish for about 14 years and for most of the time that he was writing the Diary; he refers to it frequently as “our own church”.

Scored for 40 solo voices, and setting extensive passages from the diary, The Pepys Motet promises to be an electrifying 30-minute, wall-of-sound.

The work will be performed by singers from a wide range of musical backgrounds including gospel, musical theatre, opera, folk and early music performers, each singing texts from the diary relating to different aspects of Pepys’s multi-faceted personality. Those taking part will include five singers from the Choir of Magdalene College, Cambridge (where Pepys studied) and singers from the Royal Navy (Pepys was a great naval administrator).

The Pepys Motet will be performed in a double bill with Oranges and Lemons, a remarkable composition by the same composer, which features every bell in all 17 churches mentioned in the longer variant of the famous nursery rhyme. The bells were painstakingly recorded in dusty belfries across the capital. Some had not been rung since VE Day. The recordings of the bells were spliced together in a studio so that they could ring together in harmony for the first time in history. The work features 200 bells and 4000 individual strikes, plus a choir of people who live or work within a stone's throw of one of the churches mentioned in the rhyme. It was first performed at St Mary le Bow church in 2009 and is back by (very) popular demand.

Benjamin Till has carved a niche for himself as a writer of music with documentary aspects. He has worked with communities across the country on countless, highly ambitious television projects, which he also directs. His compositions have been nominated for SONY, Grierson and RTS Awards and won several Gillards. Previous work includes A Symphony for Yorkshire (2010), which was also the subject of a BBC4 documentary; A1: The Road Musical; Coventry Market: The MusicalWatford Gap: The Musical; The Busker Symphony; Hampstead Heath: The Musical. He is about to start a film project with BBC Newcastle about the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Benjamin used to work in theatre and is proud to have collaborated on several occasions with playwright Sir Arnold Wesker.

The Pepys Motet is sponsored by Arts Council England, The Mayor of London and St Olave’s Church itself, with generous donations from Philip Carne and Mike Gresk.

Given the pressures of space in St Olave’s, which is a rare survivor of mediaeval London, admission to the performances on 25 November is by invitation and individual application only. Early RSVP is therefore essential to avoid disappointment.


Admission to both performances is free and there will be a retiring collection for much-needed works to the fabric of St Olave’s.

Responses and enquiries by Friday 5 November 2010 please to:
St Olave Rectory, 8 Hart Street, London EC3R 7NB
020 7488 4318


Benjamin Till 




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