CONCERT CANCELLED: Dixit Dominus: Saturday 25 April 2020

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Join us to experience musical genius from the Baroque and Romantic eras

Saturday 25 April at 7:30pm, St Saviour’s Church, St Albans

George Frideric Handel: Dixit Dominus
Alessandro Scarlatti: Dixit Dominus
Felix Mendelssohn: Warum toben die Heiden (Psalm 2) Op 78 No 1
Johannes Brahms: Warum ist das Licht gegeben Op 74 No 1

Emma Huggett: soprano
Charlotte Bateman: alto

Ealing Symphony Orchestra (strings)

Conducted by: John Gibbons

George Frideric Handel was only 21 when he travelled from Hamburg to Italy to further his musical education. Moving in the best musical circles in Rome, he encountered many notable Italian musicians including the renowned Sicilian composer Alessandro Scarlatti whose four-part setting of Psalm 110, Dixit Dominus (The Lord said unto my lord) may have been the source of inspiration – or perhaps of competition – for Handel’s large-scale virtuosic setting commissioned by the eminent Cardinal Colonna in 1707.

Felix Mendelssohn was, like Handel, a musical prodigy and prolific composer. Not only did he single-handedly rescue the work of JS Bach from obscurity in the early nineteenth century, but he also preserved the memory of Handel by editing and performing his music in concerts. Mendelssohn’s setting of Psalm 2 Warum toben die Heiden (Why do the heathen rage?) composed for Berlin Cathedral Choir for Christmas 1843 shows the influence of both composers.

As musical director of the Vienna Musikverein in the 1870s, Johannes Brahms also championed Baroque music, programming works by Handel in his concert series and serving on the editorial board of the Complete Bach Edition. The influence of JS Bach is evident in his 1877 motet Warum ist das Licht gegeben dem Mühseligen? (Why has light been given to the miserable?).

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

Tickets £15 (£5 child/student)

Call 07570 454744 or e-mail

or buy online at TicketSource

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Mystical Experiences

Next Concert – Saturday 25 October 7.30pm

St Saviour’s Church
St Albans

The centrepiece of this musical exploration of religious mysticism is the spectacular 40-part motet Spem in alium by the 16th century English composer, Thomas Tallis (c.1505 – 1585), considered to be one of the greatest of all Renaissance choral works.  In his masterpiece, Tallis makes wonderful use of the space created between the eight, five-part choirs, often interweaving the 40 different parts to create a glorious tapestry of sound that gives the listener an insight into the devotional zeal which inspired the work.

In the generation before Tallis, the Flemish composer Josquin des Prez (c. 1450/55 – 1521), was considered the greatest composer of his time. His remarkable 24-part composition Qui habitat in adiutorio altissimi entrances the ear with its intricate vocal patterns that seem to pivot around a single chord.

Many commentators hear a mystical intensity in the music of Tomás Luis de Victoria, (1548 – 1611), the most famous composer of the Spanish “Golden Age”. Perhaps this is no surprise seeing that he was an ordained priest as well as a composer, and his religious conviction shines throughout all his work.  This is evident in his Missa Laetatus sum for 12-part choir, renowned for its passionate fervour and published in 1600 when Victoria was at the height of his powers.

Religious experience continues to inspire composers today, and the programme includes Woefully Arrayed, a piece by the choir’s musical director, John Gibbons,  in which he sets a powerful meditation of Christ on the Cross attributed to the Tudor poet John Skelton, and Jonathan Dove’s settings of poems by Emily Dickinson, The Far Theatricals of Day.