With the impending Coronation of King Charles III, this concert celebrates uplifting and joyous music. We take a look at pieces from coronations dating back to James II in 1685, with music from Boyce, Purcell, Blow, Clarke and of course Handel. Handel’s setting of Zadok the Priest has been used at every coronation since George II in 1727, so will be in this line up but along with a few surprises. We look forward to seeing you there
Composed in early 1915, which was a time of great political upheaval in Russia and across the world, Rachmaninoff creates a reflective and deeply moving set of Vespers inviting a call for the resolution of conflict through prayer. An unaccompanied piece, he uses the choir as the orchestra, to divide and merge and create ethereal harmonies full of richness and colour with an impressive bass sound. Described as ‘the greatest achievement of the Russian Orthodox Church’, it is loved by singers and audiences alike. The call for resolution in conflict is still much needed and it’s an honour to be performing Rachmaninoff Vespers in the tranquil surroundings of the 14th century Lady Chapel of St Albans Cathedral. A huge work, full of tradition and emotion, yet aspiration for a resolution to conflict in a difficult time which still resonates today.
The programme stays in the Romantic period with MendelssohnDer zweite Psalm and Mahler Ich bin der Welt and dips into Renaissance for Allegri Miserere, originally solely sung in the Sistine Chapel.
Celebrating Christmas with music and festive nibbles
Clocks have gone back, nights are drawing in and Christmas is coming. Our Christmas concert is a real celebration of glorious festive music this year telling the Christmas story with A Ceremony of Carols by Britten and O Magnum Mysterium by Morten Lauridsen and ending with Love Divine by Howard Goodall.
The concert is at St Peter’s on Saturday 10th December at a new time of 3pm so you can pop along after some Christmas shopping and join us for mulled wine and festive nibbles after the concert. There will be both traditional and modern carols so little ones will recognise some and are more than welcome.
Taking its title from a set of brilliant improvisations by Antony Saunders of George Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm for choir and piano, this concert showcases jazz-enriched choral music.
John Rutter celebrates another jazz great – George Shearing – in his choral suite Birthday Madrigals, written for his friend’s 75th birthday. Five poems from the era of the Elizabethan madrigal and two by Shakespeare are set to jazz rhythms combined with the styles of the English madrigal and part-song.
In the Beginning by Aaron Copland takes text from the Book of Genesis (King James Version) to describe the six days of creation followed by a day of rest. It is scored for choir and mezzo-soprano soloist.
Mystic composer Morten Lauridsen uses poems in French, Spanish and English by the twentieth century poets Rainer Maria Rilke, Pablo Neruda and James Agee with the common theme of night in his song cycle Nocturnes for choir and piano.
In Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine, composer Eric Whitacre and poet Charles Anthony Silvestri create a soundtrack to Leonardo da Vinci’s imagination as he dreams about the possibility of flight.
Heitor Villa-Lobos believed that if Johann Sebastian Bach had been born in twentieth century Brazil, he would have composed music like the Bachianas Brasileiras suite, fusing his own style with Brazilian folk and popular music. No 9 is written for an ‘orchestra of voices’.
Please join us after the concert for summer refreshments in the garden
In this concert, our first since February 2020, we present music for solo violin and choir, a choral masterwork from the 19th century and a piece of musical storytelling.Seating for this concert will have families seated in the front rows, with socially-distanced seating for others at the rear of the church
Ralph Vaughan WiIliams’The Lark Ascending written on the eve of the First World War is seen as a rural idyll of an England soon to be lost forever. Paul Drayton’s 2018 choral arrangement of this popular piece has the original solo violin part soaring high above a chorus representing the landscape beneath, sometimes wordless and at other times singing lines from George Meredith’s 1881 poem of the same name, the original source of inspiration to the composer.
Cecilia McDowall’s five movement cantata Everyday Wonders: The Girl from Aleppo tells the extraordinary story of Nujeen Mustafa, a Kurdish teenager with cerebral palsy forced by conflict in 2014 to flee her home in Syria in a wheelchair and travel 3,500 miles to a new life in Germany. With words by Kevin Crossley-Holland, the piece contains a wealth of musical effects including chorales, rhythmic spoken sections, body percussion, and a solo violin part infused with Middle Eastern flavours.
Written for a cappella double choir is Josef Gabriel Rheinberger’s magnificent Mass for double choir in E flat (Op. 109) (Cantus Missae), composed in 1878 and regarded as his prime achievement. Rheinberger spent his working life in Munich at the Royal Court of Ludwig II of Bavaria, teaching at the Royal Conservatory, playing the organ at several city churches, conducting the Munich Oratorio Society and coaching the soloists at the Royal Opera. The Mass recalls the old compositional style of spatially separated choirs used by Renaissance composers such as Gabrieli and Monteverdi in Venice and led to Rheinberger being awarded the Order of St Gregory by Pope Leo XIII to whom it is dedicated.
Alan Ridout’sFerdinand for speaker and solo violin is an adaptation of a 1936 children’s story Ferdinand the Bull by Munro Leaf written shortly after the start of the Spanish Civil War about a young bull who would much rather sit under a cork tree and smell the flowers than compete in the bullfights with all the other bulls. Originally seen as a pacifist allegory and banned by Franco and Hitler, it still has many resonances nowadays in the context of discrimination and social exclusion.
Conducted by John GibbonswithMidori Komachi violin