MKCS - Our Next Concert

Autumn 2017 - Our Next Concert

Rehearsals are on Thursday evenings from 7.30pm to 9.30pm in the Melvin Hall at Mount Kelly College and the first one of the new term will be on Thursday, September 7th when  work will start on Handel’s Ode on St. Cecelia’s Day and Rutter’s Magnificat for the concert on Saturday, 18th November in St. Eustachius’ Church, Tavistock.   After Christmas, we will be rehearsing Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor  for a concert on March 17th. also in St. Eustachius’ Church.

 

Handel - A Portrait

George Frideric Handel: Ode for St. Cecilia's Day

Handel's setting of John Dryden's 1687 Ode for St Cecilia's Day was first performed in 1739 at the Theatre Royal in Lincoln's Inn Fields on the appropriate feast day, 22 November.

Although Handel relied to some extent on borrowed material, he incorporates a variety of colourful instrumental effects in vivid illustration of the text. The Ode ends with one of Handel's noblest final choruses, and one of Dryden's most visionary verses, celebrating together the all-embracing glory of music itself. It is easily the most substantial movement of the Ode, and reminds us that the composition of The Messiah was only two years away.

Extract from the sleeve notes to the Naxos recording (Alsfelder Vokalensemble, Concerto Polacco, Wolfgang Helbich) - See below

 

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Handel - A Portrait

John Rutter - Magnificat

The Magnificat was the result of an invitation from a New York-based concert organization called MidAmerica Productions which specializes in giving large-scale choral/orchestral concerts in Carnegie Hall. I had been guest-conducting a number of their concerts for some two years when I was asked to write a forty-minute work for one such concert, in May 1990.

The chorus, numbering over 200 voices, was made up of hand-picked choirs from all over the United States, every one of them happy and excited at the prospect of joining forces in the magnificent setting of Carnegie Hall, and I also had the resources of orchestra and soloist(s) available. Within these parameters, I was given a completely free hand, and I immediately felt I wanted to write something joyous because that would reflect the mood of the performers.

Having written the reflective and subdued Requiem four years earlier, I wanted my next large-scale choral work to be as different as possible, and the text of the Magnificat seemed an obvious choice. Composers seem to have fought shy of writing extended settings of it (though there are many short Anglican liturgical settings), probably because of the daunting shadow cast by J.S. Bach, and I had avoided it myself because I could not think how I would set it to music except that I knew Gregorian chant would feature in some way.

The answer came from looking at the context of the words: the Virgin Mary has learned that she is to give birth to Jesus, and she is pouring out her joy to her cousin Elizabeth, in words which recall the Song of Hannah from the Old Testament, combining faith, trust, and wonder. The Magnificat is known as the Canticle of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and it is mainly in the sunny southern countries—Spain, Mexico, Puerto Rico—that Mary is most celebrated and enjoyed. This led me to conceive the music as a bright Latin-flavoured fiesta.

On feast days of the Virgin Mary in Latin countries, the population sings, dances, dresses in its most colourful clothes, processes in the open air, and celebrates. I wrote my setting in that spirit, using just a single soprano soloist representing Mary; her music draws mainly on the tradition of the musical theatre. It has always seemed to me that if inspiration can be drawn from another area of music such as the theatre, there is no reason not to bring it into the concert hall.

Gregorian chant is indeed used at a number of points, either plainly or disguised, and I also followed Bach's precedent, from his original 1723 Magnificat version, of adding other texts to the 'official' Latin one. There are two of these, a lovely fifteenth-century English poem on the theme of Mary, one of many written in England at that time, and then in the last movement a Latin prayer to Mary which gives the soloist a final say before the music comes to a jubilant conclusion.

Extract from John Rutter's sleeve notes to the Naxos recording (The Choirs of St Albans Cathedral, Ensemble DeChorum) - see below...

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If you'd like to buy any of the CDs relating to these reviews, then don't miss Book Stop's marvellous offer.

They will contribute 10% of the price of any concert CD purchased by a MKCS member to our Choral Society funds.

Just show your membership card at The Music Room in Book Stop to treat yourself to any of these splendid performances, give yourself a head start at rehearsals, and benefit our Choral Society at the same time!
Handel Messiah CD Cover Handel Messiah CD Cover

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See below for details of this smashing offer for the Messiah CD from Book Stop!