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

Wynde, whirlwinds & flight: 28 February 2015

]Next Concert – Saturday 28 February at 7.30pm

St Peter’s Church
St Albans
AL1 3HG

St Albans Chamber Choir will whirl you away at their concert Wynde, Whirlwinds and Flight on Saturday 28 February at St Peter’s Church, in an imaginative programme that spans almost half a millennium, from the court of Henry VIII to the invention of powered flight. 

The Tudor composer John Taverner took the popular love song Westron wynde when wyll thou blow? as the basis for his Western Wynde Mass.  Despite using the delightful melody no less than thirty-six times in all, Taverner varies it with such brilliance that the ear never tires of his inventive figurations and counterpoints. 

Flying on to Renaissance Italy, contemporary American composer Eric Whitacre vividly depicts in sound Leonardo da Vinci’s dreams of a man acquiring the ability to overcome gravity and fly like a bird in the Tuscan sunrise.  Whitacre drew his inspiration for Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine from the inventor’s famous notebooks, and this atmospheric work has deservedly become his most popular composition for unaccompanied choir. 

Ralph Vaughan Williams is best known for his evocations of the English countryside through the use of folksong and traditional melodies, and Valiant-for-Truth (1940) and The Voice out of the Whirlwind (1947) are typical examples of his style.  In the last years of his life, though, his compositions take on a far darker and more enigmatic mood, and in A Vision of Aeroplanes (1956) he provides a highly imaginative setting of the prophet Ezekiels apocalyptic dream of the four creatures flying over the earth in wheeled chariots. The choral writing is very virtuosic, while the organ part is positively cataclysmic, described by one critic as being like the roar of an aircraft squadron!