Freedom and Remembrance, 11th November 2023

The programme for this performance will include Poulenc Figure Humaine and Fauré Requiem.

A note taken in interview with our Musical Director:

Poulenc Figure Humaine is one of the great pieces of the 20th century, and it’s even more extraordinary that it was composed in 1943 in occupied France, and whether it’s capturing a sense of despair but the hope as well of what was going on, what life must have been like in France at that time, but it contains so many beautiful moments of music and then some of real terror. And then this incredible finale, which is Liberté, and it’s like a chance to express that desire to be free in the midst of occupation, which is quite extraordinary.

And coupled with that, the one of the great requiems of all time. Not a loud bombastic piece, but a piece much more about hope and light Fauré’s Requiem, which is just such a beautiful piece of music of such hope. And I know for so many people it’s one of the top requiems with that incredibly beautiful finale In Paradisum, where the sound just floats as if heavenward. And it’s amazing how it creates this effect at the very end of it, almost having left the Earth, with the bassist singing the fifth of the chord and not the root of the chord so the music is suspended in the air.” – John Gibbons

This concert falls on Remembrance weekend and pays homage to all those who have served their country in times of conflict.

Performed by the BBC Singers at this year’s Proms Poulenc’s Figure Humaine is described as ‘one of the most striking works of contemporary choral music’. Completed in 1943 during the Nazi Occupation of France, the work was based on anti-war poems written by Paul Éluard and completed in just 6 weeks.

Scored for 2 six-part choirs, the Cantata describes the misery and terror of conflict using breath-taking and often complex musical variety and expression, culminating in a climactic hymn to freedom.

In contrast to the dramatic and passionate anti-war masterpiece, we turn to the calmer but equally influential French choral work Fauré’s Requiem. Said to have composed it for pleasure and not as a tribute to his Father’s death, Fauré maintains a positive and comforting mood, focusing the work on redemption and the entrance to heaven, rather than the oppression of death. The piece was even played at his own funeral in 1924.

We are joined by members of Ealing Symphony Orchestra and Bass-Baritone Andrew Jarvis whose credits include singing at the Royal Opera House and duets with Katherine Jenkins at the Royal Albert Hall annual Festival of Remembrance.

Please join us at the back of the church for nibbles and drinks post concert.

A full programme booklet will be available on the door.

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St Albans Chamber Choir
St Saviour’s Church
Sandpit Lane, St Albans, AL1 4DF
Saturday 11 November 2023