Spanish Mystics: Saturday 1 February 2020

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Spanish Mystics

Join us to experience the mystical music, literature and art of Spain’s Golden Age

Saturday 1 February at 7:30pm, St Saviour’s Church, St Albans.

Tomás Luis de Victoria: Vespers

Geoffrey Burgon: Dos Coros

Geoffrey Burgon: Nunc Dimittis

with readings from the writings of St Teresa of Ávila
and St John of the Cross

Louisa Kataria: saxophone

Conducted by John Gibbons

The Spanish mystics were influential reformers of the Roman Catholic Church in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spain. They were also the authors of spiritual masterpieces, attempting to express in words the soul’s deep longing to be united with God.

Dos Coros (1975) by Geoffrey Burgon is a choral setting of two poems by St John of the Cross (1542-1591), widely considered to be the greatest of the Spanish mystic poets. St John and his spiritual mentor St Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582) – herself a significant writer – founded new convents and monasteries throughout Spain dedicated to a simple, austere and meditative life.

Spanish mysticism also finds expression in the music of the greatest Spanish composer of the Golden Age of Polyphony, Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611). The Second Vespers of the Feast of the Annunciation is a collection of ten significant pieces of sacred music devoted to the Virgin Mary, published in Rome between 1581 and 1583. They might have been used at the Vesper (evening) service on the Feast of the Annunciation (25 March).

We are delighted to welcome saxophonist Louisa Kataria to perform Geoffrey Burgon’s Nunc Dimittis with us. This piece was written in 1979 for the BBC’s acclaimed dramatization of John le Carré’s novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

The music will be interspersed with readings from the mystic poets while images by the great religious painter Domenikos Theotokopoulos (El Greco) (1541-1614) – another Roman Catholic reformer and mystic – will be displayed.

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

Tickets £15 (£5 child/student)

Call 07570 454744 or e-mail tickets@stalbanschamberchoir.org.uk

or buy online at TicketSource

Book now

Hail! Bright Cecilia: Saturday 23 November 2019

Hail! Bright Cecilia

Saturday 23 November at 7:30pm, St Peter’s Church, St Albans.

Twentieth and twenty-first-century British composers celebrate the patron saint of music.

Benjamin Britten: Hymn to St Cecilia

James MacMillan: Cecilia Virgo

Ralph Vaughan Williams: Silence and Music

and music by Bliss, Dyson, Gardner, Howells, Jackson and Walton

Samantha Cobb – soprano
Martin Stacey – organ

Conducted by John Gibbons

The legendary Christian saint, Cecilia, suffered martyrdom in Rome around 230 AD. It was said that she sang to God as she was dying, leading the Catholic Church to adopt her as the patron saint of music and musicians.

Her feast day has been celebrated on 22 November since the fourth century and for many centuries has been the occasion for concerts and music festivals, resulting in a large number of pieces dedicated to her.

Benjamin Britten, himself born on St Cecilia’s Day, composed his own Hymn to St Cecilia in 1942, setting WH Auden’s poem Anthem for St Cecilia’s Day. The broadcast of this work in 1946 prompted the Musicians Benevolent Fund (now Help Musicians UK) to revive the tradition of an annual service of celebration for St Cecilia in London. Our concert includes three works commissioned for this festival over the years: Sir George Dyson’s Live for ever, glorious Lord (1952), John Gardner’s A song for St Cecilia’s Day (1973) and Sing, mortals! (1974) by Sir Arthur Bliss.

The Choir of Royal Holloway College, London also holds an annual St Cecilia concert and we feature two of their commissions. James MacMillan uses a Latin text dating from the 1500s in his Cecilia Virgo (2012), while Gabriel Jackson’s La Musique uses French and English texts and was jointly commissioned by the choir and Dame Felicity Lott in 2013.

Where does the uttered music go? by Sir William Walton sets words by Poet Laureate John Masefield. It was written for the unveiling of a memorial window to Sir Henry Wood, founder of the Proms, in the church of St Sepulchre-without-Newgate in London on 26 April 1946.

Ralph Vaughan Williams’ setting of his new wife Ursula’s poem Silence and Music is part of A Garland for the Queen, a cycle of part-songs commissioned from leading British composers by the Arts Council of Great Britain to honour Queen Elizabeth II in her Coronation Year (1953).

Herbert Howells also uses words by Ursula Vaughan Williams in his A Hymn for St Cecilia (1961), commissioned by the Worshipful Company of Musicians to mark his Mastership of the Company in 1959–60.

Please join us afterwards for drinks and party nibbles in the Octagon.

Tickets £15 (£5 child/student)

Call 07570 454744 or e-mail tickets@stalbanschamberchoir.org.uk

or buy online at TicketSource

Book now

A Sea Symphony: Saturday 12 October 2019

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A Sea Symphony

Saturday 12 October at 7:30pm, St Albans Cathedral

St Albans Chamber Choir joins its fellow members of the St Albans St Cecilia Festival Society – The Hardynge Choir, Radlett Choral Society and St Albans Symphony Orchestra – and Vivamus in St Albans Abbey to perform music with a nautical theme:

Ralph Vaughan WilliamsA Sea Symphony – which sets text from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass

Benjamin BrittenDawn and Sunday Morning from Peter Grimes

Benjamin BrittenFanfare for St Edmundsbury

Jonathan DoveSeaside Postcards – sung by a Massed Children’s Choir from across Hertfordshire

The post of conductor for this biennial concert is rotated among the member organisations. This year it is the turn of Rufus Frowde, Musical Director of The Hardynge Choir. Rufus read music at Oxford University and is currently Organist and Assistant Director of Music at the Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace.

TICKETS (£28 – £10) are available from St Albans Cathedral either online at stalbanscathedral.org/Event/a-sea-symphony or from the Cathedral Box Office (tel 01727 890290) located in the Gift Shop and open 10 am–4.45 pm Monday – Friday, 10 am–3.45 pm Saturday and 1 pm–5 pm Sunday

Peace of Versailles: Saturday 29 June 2019

Peace of Versailles

Saturday 29 June at 7:30pm, St Saviour’s Church, St Albans.

Francis Poulenc: Figure humaine

Ildebrando Pizzetti: Messa da Requiem

and works by Milhaud, Ravel and Sandstrom

The signing of the Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919 brought the First World War to an end. To commemorate the 100th anniversary, we present a programme of music evoking mankind’s longing for a future lived in peace and freedom.

Francis Poulenc’s masterpiece Figure humaine (1943) was written during the German occupation of France in the Second World War. Dedicated to Pablo Picasso, it sets texts by the surrealist poet Paul Eluard which express the ‘suffering of the people reduced to silence’ and the hope of the final ‘triumph of freedom over tyranny’.

The Messa da Requiem (1922) by the Italian composer Ildebrando Pizzetti was a commission to commemorate King Umberto I, assassinated by an anarchist in 1900, and was written following the death of the composer’s wife. It expresses his ‘need for the hope of peace’.

Darius Milhaud’s Cantate de la Paix (1937) is a tribute to the French statesman Aristide Briand, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his part in negotiating the Locarno Treaties in 1925 following the Treaty of Versailles.

Maurice Ravel wrote the tender song Trois Beaux Oiseaux du Paradis (Three beautiful birds-of-paradise) in 1914 shortly after the outbreak of the First World War. It presents a haunting image of three birds in the colours of the French flag bringing the news of a soldier’s death to the girl waiting for him at home.

In Across the Bridge of Hope, Swedish composer Jan Sandström sets a poem by twelve-year-old Seán McLaughlin, one of the 29 victims of the terrorist car bomb in Omagh in Northern Ireland in August 1998. Written after the Good Friday Agreement the previous April, the poem became the voice of all young victims in a world of war and violence and for their universal longing and hope for peace.

Conducted by John Gibbons, with Hattie Jolly – Flute

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

Tickets £15 (£5 child/student)

Call 07570 454744 or e-mail tickets@stalbanschamberchoir.org.uk

or buy online at TicketSource

Book now

A Tudor Christmas: Saturday 9 December 2017

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Saturday 9 December 2017

7.30pm

St Peter’s Church, St Peter’s Street

St Albans AL1 3HG

John Gibbons conductor

 


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TRAVEL BACK TO TUDOR AND STUART TIMES for a concert of glorious music written by the musicians of the royal court for performance at church services around Christmastime.

The centrepiece is the seven-part Mass Puer natus est nobis (A boy is born to us) by Thomas Tallis, believed to have been composed for a flamboyant ceremony in St Paul’s Cathedral on Christmas Day 1554 following the recent marriage of Queen Mary Tudor and King Philip II of Spain.

The earliest piece in the concert comes from the early 1500s – Quid petis, o fili? (What do you seek, my son?), a Christmas carol in both English and Latin by Richard Pygott, a member of Henry VIII’s Chapel Royal.

John Sheppard was another Gentleman of the Chapel Royals of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary. He wrote the responsory Verbum caro factus est (The Word was made flesh) to be sung at Matins on Christmas Day.

William Byrd’s set of six Christmas and Epiphany motets O magnum mysterium – Beata Virgo, Hodie Christus natus est, Puer natus est nobis, Surge, illuminare Jerusalem, Viderunt omnes and Tui sunt coeli were composed in 1607 for private Roman Catholic ceremonies during a period of religious persecution by Mary’s successor, the Protestant Elizabeth I.

Two musicians from the Chapel Royal of the Stuart king James I are also represented. Robert Ramsey wrote the lament Sleep, fleshly birth following the untimely death of James’s older son Prince Henry in 1612, while Orlando Gibbons was organist at Westminster Abbey in 1616 when he composed the beautiful anthem See, see the Word is incarnate, setting an extraordinary text which covers the whole of the liturgical year.

The music will be interspersed with seasonal readings by members of the choir.

We look forward to welcoming you to St Peter’s Church to hear some wonderful music then to meet the performers and enjoy some Tudor-style refreshments in the hall afterwards.

 

Tickets £15 (£5 child/student)

Call 07570 454744 or e-mail tickets@stalbanschamberchoir.org.uk

or buy online at TicketSource
Book now

Shakespeare in Song: Saturday 30th April 2016

]Next Concert – Saturday 30 April 7.30pm

St Saviour’s Church
St Albans
AL14DF


Vaughan Williams  Serenade to Music
Vaughan Williams  Three Shakespeare songs

And works by Shearing, Mäntyjärvi, Moeran, Rodney Bennett & Milner

Conductor John  Gibbons

Readings by Rosemarie Partridge & Terry Prince

William Shakespeare’s verse has long been an inspiration and source for many composers. In celebration of the four- hundredth anniversary of his death, this concert features a selection of songs and music, setting lyrics drawn from the bard’s plays and sonnets, where the timeless beauty of his words is enhanced by song.

The programme includes the choral version of Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music, which was dedicated to Sir Henry Wood. Its text is an adaptation of the discussion about music between the lovers Jessica and Lorenzo from the beginning of Act V of The Merchant of Venice. Declarations of love are juxtaposed with comparisons of the movement of heavenly bodies (the “music of the spheres”), while contemplating the beauty of music by night and by day. At its premiere in 1938, this exquisite and passionate setting moved Rachmaninov to tears.

Other Vaughan Williams works being performed include Three Shakespeare Songs, with words drawn from The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. These expressive miniatures for unaccompanied choir range from the eerie portrayal of underwater bells in Full Fathom Five to the nimble and flighty Over Hill, Over Dale.

The programme also features two delightful groups of settings by composer, jazz pianist and swing-band leader George Shearing, who drew on Shakespeare’s sonnets for the words to his Music to Hear and Songs and Sonnets. Other Shakespeare songs by Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, E J Moeran, Anthony Milner are also included, as is Richard Rodney Bennett’s Full Fathom Five, another of the three very different versions of Ariel’s song in the programme.

The performance is interspersed with Shakespearean readings by Rosemarie Partridge and Terry Prince of The Company of Ten, and is conducted by our Musical Director, John Gibbons.

Tickets £14 (£1 child/student)
Tel 07570 454744 or email tickets@stalbanschamberchoir.org.uk
or online at allaboutstalbans

 Part of the St Albans Shakespeare Festival