Next Concert

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Saturday 22 October 2016 at 7.30pm
St Saviour’s Church
St Albans AL1 4DF



Anton Bruckner   Mass in E minor
Igor Stravinsky Mass for choir, woodwind & brass
Edmund Rubbra  Veni Creator Spiritus

with the   City Wind Ensemble
conducted by   John Gibbons

Angel Voices explores the extraordinary sonorities of a choir combined with woodwind and brass instruments.

The concert will feature the work of three contrasting composers: humble, unworldly Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) from Austria, sophisticated Russian-French-American Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) and acclaimed British musician Edmund Rubbra (1901-1986). All three were profoundly devout and strove to make church music clear and straightforward to sing, and separate from any theatrical religious celebration.

Bruckner’s Mass No 2 in E Minor for eight- part choir and wind  ensemble  is  warm  and expressive, containing echoes of Palestrina’s Missa brevis (1570) and Wagner’s Tristanund Isolde (1857-9). Written in 1866 as a commission for the Bishop of Linz for the consecration of the new Votive Chapel at Linz Cathedral, its first performance took place in the open air, which led Bruckner to choose woodwind and brass rather than string-based accompaniment.

Stravinsky described his Mass for Mixed Chorus and Wind Instruments, one of his most beautiful compositions, as “very cold music, absolutely cold, that will appeal directly to the spirit”. It was composed between 1944 and 1948 while Stravinsky was living in California, in reaction to his discovery in a second-hand bookstore of some Mozart masses. He wrote: “As  I  played  through  these   rococo-operatic sweets-of-sin, I knew I had to write a Mass of my own, but a real one.” In this piece, he combines the ancient musical languages of both the Russian Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church to great effect.

Rubbra too had a deep knowledge and understanding of Renaissance and Eastern music which gave his work an individual spiritual dimension. His Veni, creator Spiritus, a motet for four-part choir and brass, was first performed at a Promenade concert in 1966 conducted by Malcolm Arnold. It is both solemn and colourful, with resonances of Stravinsky’s work.

The choir will be accompanied by an ensemble comprising two oboes, cor anglais, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets and three trombones, and conducted by the chamber choir’s Musical Director, John Gibbons.

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

Tickets £15 (£5 child/student)
Tel 07570 454744 or email
or online at

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Concerts 2016-17

John Gibbons conductor


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Our 2016–17 concert season offers a wide range of exciting and beautiful music. We begin in October with some of the greatest music written for choir and wind orchestra, while in January we offer a programme of choral masterpieces written by some of the greatest modern French and Swiss composers. In March we move to the Renaissance for a feast of Italian and Spanish music, notably including Allegri’s Miserere, as well as works by the globe-trotting Orlando di Lasso. Following Easter we have our biennial Exchange with our German friends, the Wormser Kantorei, this time involving two concerts in Worms. Back home, as a light-hearted finale to the season, our July concert combines early and modern compositions devoted to the natural world, including two settings of St Francis’s words and very modern works devoted to birds, Jonathan Dove’s Who Killed Cock Robin? and Karl Jenkins’s Parliament of Owls.

Tickets £15 (£5 child/student)
Tel 07570 454744 or email
or online at


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