‘Ave Maria’, introduced here by one of our Choristers, Imogen Walker.

“This piece started life not as a vocal piece but as an instrumental chamber work: Méditation sur le Premier Prélude de piano de J S Bach. The story goes that Gounod was at his Paris home in 1852 with his fiancée, Anna Zimmermann, and her composer father, Pierre-Joseph-Guillaume Zimmermann. Gounod improvised a melody over Bach’s Prelude and was overheard by Pierre who rushed into the room and asked him to play it again so that he could transcribe it. The chamber version was then performed at a house concert a few days later and published in 1853. It wasn’t until 1859 that words were first added; initially a short poem by Alphonse de Lamartine, and later Ave Maria. This is a piece that I used to love singing when I was a child, and I’ve had a soft spot for it ever since.”