Next Concert

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Saturday 30 June 2018

St Saviour’s Church 7.30pm 

Light & Love  – 

Music for midsummer


Malcolm Arnold – The John Clare cantata
R Vaughan Williams – Epithalamion
William Alwyn – Pastoral fantasia
Cecilia McDowall – Ad lucem – a canticle of light

Amadeus Chamber Orchestra
leader Jennifer Wigram

Meghan Cassidy viola
Hattie Jolly flute
Keel Watson baritone
Susie Arbeid piano

conducted by John Gibbons

A programme of rarely-performed masterworks celebrating the English countryside, the changing seasons, a wedding and the triumph of light over darkness

The poetry of the nineteenth-century Northamptonshire Peasant Poet John Clare was greatly admired by Malcolm Arnold. He wrote The John Clare Cantata for mixed choir and piano duet in 1956 for the Dartington Summer School of Music, here receiving its second performance in the version for strings orchestrated by John Gibbons. Its five sections present Clare’s evocative responses to the effects wrought by the different seasons on the rural landscape.

Epithalamion composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1957 is a cantata for baritone, choir, flute, piano and strings incorporating English folk song melodies. Ursula Wood (later the second Mrs Vaughan Williams) selected the text of the eleven parts from sixteenth-century love poems by Edmund Spenser written to his bride on their wedding day.

William Alwyn’s Pastoral Fantasia for Viola and Strings is a wartime commission for the BBC Light Programme’s lunch-hour Music While You Work series, aimed to boost morale on the home front. First broadcast in March 1940, its melodies evoke nostalgia for the England of bygone days, soon to be changed for ever.

Ad Lucem – A Canticle of Light by Cecilia McDowall was commissioned by choir member Alan McGlynn for the St Albans Choral Society in memory of his late wife Mary Josephine Blackburn and received its premiere in St Saviour’s in October 2009. It sets a variety of texts reflecting the sentiment of Amnesty International’s motto: It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

The Amadeus Chamber Orchestra has performed in the local area for 40 years, delighting its audiences with its consistently high standard of performance. Jennifer Wigram has been leader of the orchestra since 1996.

Please join us afterwards for drinks and party nibbles in the church hall.


TICKETS        £15 (£5 child/student)

BOOKING       tel 07570 454744; email;

Or online directly at TicketSource

Book now

Season 2017-18

John Gibbons conductor

Our 2017-18 concert season begins in October with a joint concert of Russian music with Radlett Choral Society, Hardynge Choir and St Albans Symphony Orchestra, including Rachmaninov’s famous work The Bells.

Music was present in every aspect of life in the Tudor period, particularly at the royal court where the monarch maintained a Chapel Royal of the highly skilled musicians to perform at public and private events and religious worship. In December, we present religious music written in the reigns of Henry VIII, Mary 1, Elizabeth 1 and James 1 by eminent composers such as Thomas Tallis, William Byrd and Orlando Gibbons for church services on Christmas Day.

Our February concert on the theme of farewell and loss contains nineteenth and twentieth century masterpieces by British, French and German composers, including Parry’s Songs of Farewell, a set of six motets written during the First World War as the composer sensed his life was drawing to a close.

In April we present dramatic motets and cantatas written by JS Bach for performance at Easter and Ascension in Leipzig’s principal churches. The programme includes Christ lag in Todes Banden, Bach’s earliest cantata, written when he was just 22.

The season ends with a midsummer celebration of light and love, featuring settings by English composers of religious texts, proverbs and poetry spanning the ages. The centrepiece is Vaughan William’s Epithalamion which uses words written in 1594 by the poet Edmund Spenser.


Saturday 14 October 2017

St Albans Cathedral 7.30pm

– St Albans St Cecilia Festival Society Concert –

Sergei Rachmaninov – The Bells (in English)

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – 1812 Overture (choral version)

Alexander Borodin – Polovtsian Dances

Dmitri  Shostakovich – October


Saturday 9 December 2017

St Peter’s Church 7.30pm

A Tudor Christmas

A concert of sacred choral music composed for Christmastide with seasonal readings

conducted by John Gibbons

Thomas Tallis – Missa Puer natus est nobis

Orlando Gibbons – See, see the Word is incarnate

William Byrd – O magnum mysterium

John Sheppard – Verbum caro factum est

Richard Pygott – Quid petis, O fili?

Robert Ramsey – Sleep, fleshly birth

with other works by Byrd and Tallis


Sunday 25 February 2018

St Peter’s Church 8.00pm

– Songs of Farewell –

Alfred Desenclos – Messe de Requiem

Hubert Parry – Songs of Farewell

Michael Tippett – Spirituals from A Child of Our Time

Max Reger – Ach, Herr, strafe mich nicht 

Saturday 28 April 2018

St Saviour’s Church 7.30pm

– Festive Bach  – from Passiontide to Ascension

J S Bach – Christ lag in Todes Banden (BWV 4) 

J S Bach – Ein Herz, das seinen Jesum lebend weiß (BWV 134)

J S Bach – Gott fähret auf mit Jauchzen (BWV 43)

J S Bach – Fürchte dich nicht (BWV 228)

J S Bach – O ewiges Feuer, o Ursprung der Liebe (BWV 34)

Saturday 30 June 2018

St Saviour’s Church 7.30pm

Light and Love – 

Malcolm Arnold – The John Clare cantata

Ralph Vaughan Williams – Epithalamion

William Alwyn – Pastoral fantasia for viola and strings

Cecilia McDowall – Ad lucem – a canticle of light

Book now

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Concert Review: Festive Bach, Saturday 28 April 2018

Alan Knott reviews St Albans Chamber Choir’s recent Festive Bach concert St Albans Chamber Choir’s concert Festive Bach on Saturday, April 28 attracted such a large audience to St...

Concert Review: Songs of Farewell, Sunday 25 February 2018

John Manning reviews St Albans Chamber Choir. Music of the 20th century by such composers as Duruflé and Fauré did much to endear French music of that period to...

Concert Review: A Tudor Christmas, Saturday 9 December 2017

John Manning reviews “A Tudor Christmas” with St Albans Chamber Choir at St Peter’s Church in St Albans. Even though they lived in turbulent times, English composers of the...
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