Concerts

Next Concert

The French Connection

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Saturday 21 January 2017 at 7.30pm
St Peter’s Church
St Albans AL1 3HG

 


 

Frank Martin   Mass for Double Choir
Jean Langlais  Messe solennelle

and works by Messiaen, Poulenc and Rütti

with Tom Winpenny organ
conducted by John Gibbons

The centrepiece of this exploration of choral gems by 20th and 21st Century French and Swiss composers is the Mass for Double Choir by the Swiss composer Frank Martin (1890 -1974). Martin was an intensely self-critical composer and withheld this piece from public performance for nearly forty years, saying it was “a matter between God and myself”. Since its first performance in 1963, it has become recognised as one of the great masterpieces of unaccompanied choral music, displaying an intense combination of austere spirituality and joyous exuberance.

Jean Langlais (1907-1991) and Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) were fellow students at the Paris Conservatoire in the late 1920s. Langlais’ Messe solennelle (1949) for choir and organ is said  to  be  his  finest  piece  of church music, combining elements of plainsong with dissonant  counterpoint  and rich chromatic harmony. Messiaen’s setting of the Communion motet O sacrum convivium (1937) is a rapt, slow-moving meditation for unaccompanied choir which displays his highly individual approach to harmonic colour, melody and rhyme.

Francis Poulenc (1899–1963) felt that he had “put the best and most genuine part  of myself” into  his  sacred  choral  music.  O magnum mysterium,  composed  in  1952, is one of his settings of four traditional Christmas texts and is characterised by its great beauty, excitement and eccentricity.

Vocalised bird calls have been ingeniously incorporated into a sumptuous setting of the Nunc dimittis by modern-day Swiss composer Carl Rütti (b. 1949), inspired by the reference in St Luke’s Gospel to two sacrificial turtledoves. He says of this piece that “the choral sound represents the light the aged Simeon predicted”.

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

Tickets £15 (£5 child/student)
Tel 07570 454744 or email tickets@stalbanschamberchoir.org.uk
or online at www.ticketsource.co.uk

Book now



Concerts 2016-17

John Gibbons conductor

Brochure2016

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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 tickets@stalbanschamberchoir.org.uk
or online at www.ticketsource.co.uk

 



Previous Concerts

angel trumpet

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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.



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