A Star is Born: 20th December 2014

Next Concert – Saturday 20 December 7.30pm

St Peter’s Church
St Albans

A Star is Born showcases celebrations of Christmas by composers of the 20th and 21st centuries.

In tribute to John Tavener, who died last year, the main work is Ex Maria Virgine, subtitled ‘A Christmas Sequence’, which comprises ten movements employing a variety of texts focusing on the Virgin Mary. Composed in 2005 to celebrate the marriage of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, it is written for double choir and organ and has been critically acclaimed for its originality. Tavener’s much-loved earlier work The Lamb (1989) sets the famous poem by William Blake.

A perennial favourite for this festive season are the Quatre Motets pour le temps de Noël by Francis Poulenc. These exquisite choral miniatures use Biblical texts to portray four scenes from the Nativity story. Equally popular is the Hymne à la Vierge of another French composer, Pierre Villette.

By way of contrast with these unaccompanied pieces, three of the contemporary works in the programme are scored for voices, percussion and piano: Edward Gregson’s A Welcome Ode (1997), described by the composer as an exuberant short anthem which harks back to Purcell, John Gardner’s joyous Tomorrow shall be my dancing day, and The Twelve Days of Christmas by Bob Chilcott, an energetic version of this well-known carol, which even allows the audience to join in!

The Choir is delighted to welcome back the renowned local piano duettists Isabel Beyer and Harvey Dagul as accompanists and also to perform two sets of variations, by Beethoven and Paul Ladmirault.