The Sanders Society - Research, Interviews & Articles

The Sanders Society welcomes new publications concerning John Sanders, and is pleased to make these available here as downloadable articles as appropriate. The Society offers its thanks to the authors, and those who kindly gave permission for extracts of their material to be included here.

Listening to the Voice of God through Music

In 2003, Dr John Sanders delivered a series of lectures to people attending a Quiet Day in retreat at Glenfall House in Gloucestershire. The text of that lecture is published here for visitors to the web-site to enjoy.

You may download the transcript of Dr Sanders' lecture Listening to the Voice of God through Music.

Programme notes and text of 'Urbs Beata'

One of John Sanders's late works was a large-scale cantata entitled "Urbs Beata" (the Holy City). It was commissioned by the 2001 Three Choirs Festival and performed by the three Cathedral Choirs of Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester, and conducted by Adrian Lucas.

The composition was created in order to provide reasonably competent choirs with an opportunity to perform exciting new music, without having to face the frequent challenge of raising large sums of money for orchestras. It is scored for:

  • SATB choir with divisions
  • Alto soloist
  • Soloists from the choir
  • Trio : ATB
  • Organ
  • Solo Cello
  • Brass
  • Percussion
  • Organ

and lasts 45 minutes

The programme notes and text fo Urbs Beata are provided here, and are extracted with permission from the 2001 Three Choirs Festival Programme Book. The text and notes are copyright.

This is a splendid and exciting work, and choirs interested in performing it should contact The Secretary, The Sanders Society.

Musicians' Chapel Reredos in memory of John Sanders

In the Musicians' Chapel, on the south side of the Lady Chapel in Gloucester Cathedral, there is a beautiful reredos over the altar in memory of John Sanders. The artist, Iain McKillop, has produced a fascinating set of notes to illustrate his thinking throughout the creation of this painting. This pamphlet is available for people to take away, and is also published here for the benefit of visitors to this website.

Analysis of The Reproaches

Douglas Mason was a chorister in Gloucester Cathedral Choir under John Sanders from 1981 to 1987. He subsequently read Music at Durham University, and went on to train as a teacher at Leeds University also singing as a bass lay clerk in the Choir of Leeds Parish Church at this time. Douglas now works as a member of the Academic Music Department and choral training staff at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, England and he also spends some time composing, focusing on choral music in particular. Following the publication of his Preces, Responses and Lord’s Prayer when he was 25, many of his choral works have now been published by Encore Publications, Animus Music Publishing and Recital Music. In addition to publisher commissions, he has also written and arranged music for schools. For several years, Douglas also sang with the William Byrd Singers directed by Stephen Wilkinson.

Douglas has produced for his students a detailed and fascinatingly rigorous insight into the fastidious intellectual as well as the artistic processes which lay behind the composition of John Sanders' beautiful piece of music. The analysis includes extracts of The Reproaches, with the kind permission of the publishers, The Royal School of Church Music.

You may download Douglas' analysis of The Reproaches. You may choose to let Douglas know, through the Society by email to if you find it useful.

A Dissertation on the life and music of John Derek Sanders (1933-2003)

Anna Turmeau was born in York in 1983 and was educated in Wakefield. She was a chorister at Wakefield Cathedral and as a teenager sang with various choirs including the Rodolfus Choir under the direction of Ralph Allwood. She went on to study for a degree in music at the University of Birmingham graduating in 2004 before going on to gain a post-graduate diploma in oboe performance at the Birmingham Conservatoire a year later.

In May 2011, Anna became principal oboe in Orquestra Classica da Madeira where she is presently residing.

Anna writes : "I met John Sanders first when as a member of Rodolfus Choir we performed Sanders Requiem in Gloucester Cathedral as part of the Three Choirs Festival. I was so inspired by this work and consequently decided to focus upon his works as the subject of my study. In 2004 whilst preparing this dissertation I conducted an interview with John at his home in Upton on Severn. What a generous man he was, furnishing me with scores and recordings of his compositions.

Sadly I learned of his death before the study was completed and so decided to dedicate it to his memory."

You may download Anna's dissertation on the life and music of John Sanders. You may choose to let Anna know, through the Society by email to if you find it useful. The Sanders Society is enormously grateful to the following publishers for their consent to reproduce the musical examples contained in this thesis: The Royal School of Church Music, ChesterNovello, Boosey and Oxford University Press.

An Interview with Dr John Sanders - March 1994

John Brooks is an American organist, choir director and teacher, currently active in the Washington, D.C. area as Interim Organist-Choirmaster at All Souls Memorial Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. A lifelong Anglican, Brooks's early musical training as a chorister in a large suburban parish outside New York City developed into a life vocation as a church musician. His bachelor's degree in organ performance is from the College of Wooster, and his Master's degree is from the Peabody Conservatory, Baltimore, Maryland. He is a former Fellow in Church Music of Washington National Cathedral. In 1992-1994 he worked in the U.K., first as a Choral Scholar at Wells Cathedral, then as a Lay Clerk at Gloucester Cathedral, singing under the late Dr. John Sanders. While at Gloucester, John Brooks taught in the King's School, and was privileged to sing in the 1994 Three Choirs Festival at Hereford. He is an active member of the Royal School of Church Music in America, and teaches on several of its Summer Choir Training Courses.

You may download a transcript of John Brook's interview with John Sanders. You may choose to let John know, through the Society by email to if you find it useful.

For further information The Sanders Society may be contacted by email ( or by post to:

The Sanders Society,
144 Tuffley Avenue,

The Sanders Society