Fund-Raising Quiz, Friday 26th April, 7:30pm

Come and join us for a
Quiz & Supper Evening

Book through a choir member or email: tickets@stalbanschamberchoir.org.uk or publicity@stalbanschamberchoir.org.uk

Teams of up to 8, or come as you are and we’ll find a team for you to join
just let us know by email.

Prize for the winning team.

Ticket £15, includes Pizza
Drinks available at the bar.

A fun night out and proceeds to help us fund future concerts.
Registered charity no. 280876

St Luke’s Church Hall
Cell Barnes Lane, St Albans, AL1 4QJ
Friday 26 April 2024
7:30pm

Bach – B Minor Mass, Saturday 27th April, 7:30pm

The Mass in B minor (German: h-Moll-Messe), BWV 232, is an extended setting of the Mass ordinary by Johann Sebastian Bach. The composition was completed in 1749, the year before the composer’s death, and was to a large extent based on earlier work, such as a Sanctus Bach had composed in 1724.

As usual for its time, the composition is formatted as a Neapolitan mass, consisting of a succession of choral movements with a broad orchestral accompaniment, and sections in which a more limited group of instrumentalists accompanies one or more vocal soloists. Among the more unusual characteristics of the composition is its scale: a total performance time of around two hours, and a scoring consisting of two groups of SATB singers and an orchestra featuring an extended winds section, strings and Basso continuo.

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.

Book now
St Albans Chamber Choir
St Saviour’s Church
Sandpit Lane, St Albans, AL1 4DF
Saturday 27 April 2024
7:30pm

On Wings of Hope, 9th March 2024

John Gibbons, our musical director, once again put together a magical sequence of pieces for this concert, this time matching the darker aspects of life with ones of hope and aspiration.

The evening opened with the energy of Stanford’s Magnificat lifting the building, the audience, and the choir. This was followed by the beautiful and intricate Mass for Double Choir by Frank Martin filling 9th Century Lady Chapel with swooping praise. After the intermission there was the haunting poem “Why?” by Emily Dickenson, set to music by John himself. Following this with George Lloyd’s setting of Psalm 130 “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee” was a poignant and deeply beautiful reminiscence of his experiences of surviving the sinking of his ship, the loss of comrades and the fragility of life. And then ending the concert we had the lovely “Lark Ascending” – a choral work of the original poem by George Meredith, which inspired Vaughan Williams and then re-arranged by Paul Drayton – the violin solo was played by our very own Jenny Wigram and as the last notes lifted into the rafters you could hear a pin drop in the Abbey. A superb evening.

Some Audience comments:

What a wonderful concert. Blown away by the arrangement of Lark Ascending, and we’re going to take a deeper dive into George Lloyd

A level music student Alexander was a little exercised that George Lloyd had written three symphonies by the age of 19!😂

Why?: very atmospheric. Re the concert: … truly wonderful concert. I really enjoyed it. You were all so good.

Details

A concert of hope and optimism with uplifting pieces of music from European composers spanning the 19th and 20th centuries, including Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending, composed in 1914 and most commonly heard in the orchestral version with beautiful solo violin. Paul Drayton’s arrangement transcribes the orchestral accompaniment into an intricate vocal web using the words of the poem by George Meredith that were the inspiration for the original work. Regularly in the top three of the Classic FM ‘Hall of Fame’, the work is also used heavily in film and TV, even as accompaniment to a poignant moment in Coronation Street.  

Swiss composer Frank Martin’s Mass for Double Choir, written in 1922, is one of the great masterpieces of unaccompanied choral music. Fervently religious, Martin initially considered it as a work just for himself and God and kept it in a drawer. Only in the 1960s was it premiered. 

In the 1930s George Lloyd was hailed, alongside Britten, as one of the great talents of the age. He nearly died during WWII as a Royal Marine on HMS Trinidad doing Arctic Convoys to Murmansk. His late setting of Psalm 130 ‘Out of the depths have I cried unto thee’ is a poignant and deeply beautiful reminiscence of his experiences of surviving the sinking of his ship, the loss of comrades and the fragility of life.  

The final piece is Stanford’s wonderful setting of the Magnificat, in Latin, for double choir. Known in Cathedrals for many arrangements of the Evening Canticles, this version is notable for its luxurious sound world, soaring melodies and rich harmonic textures. A glorious statement of hope and light in a world full of darkness. 

Vaughan Williams/Paul Drayton – The Lark Ascending
Frank Martin – Mass for double choir
Why – Emily Dickinson / John Gibbons
George Lloyd – Psalm 130
Stanford – Magnificat for double choir

Epiphany, 6th January 2024

Performance Review

Amongst the rest of the programme, the choir had the pleasure of performing “Polaris”, a lyric by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage set to an original tune by St Albans teenager Rebecca, it won the Radio 3 Carol Competition 2023.

Rebecca pictured with our Musical Director John Gibbons and Choir Admin Suzie Renshaw

One of our audience had this to say – “St Saviour’s is a beautiful concert venue, with fairy lights strung across the nave.  It can be chilly though – and a cup of mulled wine was an inspirational idea to help warm the audience on arrival –  and St Albans Chamber Choir certainly further warmed our spirits with their singing.  The Choir was on excellent form with all voices and parts blending well together.  The programme was varied, ranging from the sixteenth century right up to 2023 with John Gibbons’ introductions adding both background context and insight. The concert opened with Peter Cornelius’ well known “The Kings” , the solo part beautifully sung by Ralph Penny.  We were then treated to a performance of the winning carol in BBC Radio 3’s 2023 Carol Competition Junior Category – a setting of Simon Armitage’s Polaris by Rebecca from St Albans. This was enchanting, superbly accompanied by choir-member, Susie Renshaw, and it was particularly special to have Rebecca and her family in the audience.  Other highlights for this audience member included Morton Lauridsen’s  “O magnum mysterium” , Elizabeth Poston’s “Jesus Christ the Apple Tree” and John Tavener’s “The Lamb”.  These were goose-bump inducing with their clarity and musical sensitivity.  Howard Goodall’s “Romance of the Epiphany”, by contrast, showcased the joyful, almost playful side to the Choir, leaving the audience tapping their toes.  The Choir’s energy was sustained throughout the programme and their enjoyment of the music was evident – not surprising when they produced such a beautiful sound.”

Original Description

Celebrating Epiphany – when a star led the Magi to Bethlehem  – this concert is full of joy and hope to reflect on the meaning of Christmas and kick off the new year with a festive selection of music and carols spanning the centuries.

We’re pleased to be given an opportunity to perform “Polaris” with music composed by a local St Albans resident – Rebecca composed the piece to accompany the poem by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, and in the process, at 13 years of age, this year became the youngest ever winner of the BBC Radio 3 Carol Competition.

Dating from the time of Mary I, Missa Puer natus est nobis by Thomas Tallis was unusual at the time. Written for 7 voice parts, rather than 5 and without switching between solo and chorus, the mass provides a rich sound with dramatic effects throughout.

Twentieth century delights include Bethlehem Down by Peter Warlock, written in 1927 together with poet Bruce Blunt, apparently to raise some money for Christmas drinking funds! John Tavener(the modern one) also took the words of a poem and set William Blake’s the Lamb to music in just 15 minutes, packing it full of unconventional harmony and interlocking lines.

Morten Lauridsen, the American mystic composer, sensitively and spiritually tells the story of the birth of Jesus in his composition O Magnum Mysterium, based on a Gregorian chant traditionally used for vigil on Christmas Day. Just slightly more contemporary, written in 2000, we sing the joyful and uplifting carol Romance of the Epiphany by Howard Goodall.

Please join us in the church hall after the concert for tea and cakes post concert.

Polaris – Rebecca
Peter Cornelius – The 3 Kings
Arnold Bax – I sing of a maiden
Thomas Tallis – Mass: Puer natus est nobis, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei
Peter Warlock – Bethlehem Down
Marenzio/Palestrina – Tribus Maraculis
Morten Lauridsen – O Magnum Mysterium
Elizabeth Poston – Jesus Christ the apple tree
Andrew Carter – 12 days of Christmas
Howard Goodall – Romance of the Epiphany

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.

Book now
St Albans Chamber Choir
St Saviour’s Church
Sandpit Lane, St Albans, AL1 4DF
Saturday 11 November 2023
7:30pm

Sounds of Summer, 2nd July 2023

Details of our summer concert 2023
Click image for full details

This concert takes us away from sacred choral works and delves into a world of folksongs, love songs, a unicorn, a robin and The Beatles!

Full of drama and character, Who killed Cock Robin?, by the English composer Jonathan Dove, takes the 18th century rhyme and inventively retells the witty story. The Beatles also gets a shake up with And I love her, Yesterday and Let it be set for choir by our own conductor John Gibbons.

An exception amongst the mainly English compositions in this concert is Unicornis Captivatur by Ola Gjeilo, a Norwegian composer. This piece, written in 2001, was inspired by a compilation of medieval chants found in a monastery. Ola explains, “I was greatly inspired by the colourful and powerful symbolism and just the sheer drama, joy and sense of triumph… with a wild medieval Latin text that includes a unicorn, lion, and a crocodile.”

Even the weather, the most quintessentially English of topics, is sung about in Bob Chilcott’s energetic and quirky piece, Weather Report.

Please join us after the concert for summer refreshments in the hall and garden.

Book now
St Albans Chamber Choir
St Saviour’s Church
Sandpit Lane, St Albans, AL1 4DF
Sunday 2 July 2023
2:00pm