16th Dec. 2017 --- Christmas Concert: Beckminster Methodist Church
24th March 2018 --- Mozart's Requiem: St John's Church Wolverhampton
Music for Passiontide’ included ‘The Crucifixion’ by John Stainer, Sacred works by Brahms and Mendelssohn and the ‘Five Lenten Motets’ by Antonin Tučapský. These will be performed with the organ and soloists, conducted by the choir’s Musical Director, Ian Clarke. The concert will be held on Saturday 19th March 2016 at the Church of St John’s in the Square in Wolverhampton WV2 4AT, commencing at 7.30pm. Light refreshments will be available in the interval and tickets are £14 each with children under 16 free. Tickets are available from choir members, phoning 01902 744447 or at the door on the night.
Sir John Stainer, born in London in June 1840, was an English composer and organist whose music, particularly The Crucifixion, was very popular during his lifetime and afterwards. His work as choir trainer and organist set standards for Anglican church music that are still influential. He was organist at Magdalen College, Oxford and subsequently at St Pauls’ Cathedral. He was also active as an academic, becoming Heather Professor of Music at Oxford. He retired due to his poor eyesight and deteriorating health, dying unexpectedly whilst on holiday in Italy in 1901.
Antonin Tučapský was born in 1928 in Czechoslovakia, where he studied before beginning his career as composer, teacher and conductor. He studied choral conducting and graduated from Masaryk University, Brno in Music Education and Musicology. In 1951 whilst teaching, he became a member of the well-known Moravian Teachers’ Male Voice, later becoming their choirmaster. He gained his PhD in 1967 and in 1975 he moved to England and became a Professor of Composition at Trinity College of Music in London where he remained until his retirement in 1996. His compositions have been published across the world and he died on September 9th, 2014 at the age of 86.
Wombourne & District Choral Society is a well-established, mixed choir of some 80 singers, drawn from the local area and has a varied repertoire, mainly full classical works, often performed with soloists and an orchestra. Patron of the choir is John Rutter, the renowned and popular choral composer. New singers are always welcome to the choir. Rehearsals are held on Monday evenings, 7.30 to 9.30pm during term time at The King's School, Regis Road, Tettenhall, Wolverhampton, WV6 8XG. For more information, contact our Membership Secretary, Carol Dixon at [email protected]
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809): Nelson Mass
Haydn's chief biographer, Professor H.C. Robbins Landon wrote that this mass "is arguably Haydn's greatest single composition". Written in 1798, it is one of the six late masses by Haydn for the Esterhazy family composed after taking a short holiday, during which elaborate church music was inhibited by the Josephinian reforms of the 1780s. The late sacred works of Haydn are masterworks, influenced by the experience of his London symphonies. They highlight the soloists and chorus while allowing the orchestra to play a prominent role.
Though Haydn's reputation was at its peak in 1798, when he wrote this mass, his world was in turmoil. Napoleon had won four major battles with Austria in less than a year. The previous year, in early 1797, his armies had crossed the Alps and threatened Vienna itself. In May 1798, Napoleon invaded Egypt to destroy Britain's trade routes to the East.
The summer of 1798 was therefore a terrifying time for Austria, and when Haydn finished this mass, his own title, in the catalogue of his works, was Missa in Angustiis (Mass for troubled times). What Haydn did not know when he wrote the mass, but what he and his audience heard (perhaps on September 15, the day of the very first performance), was that on 1 August, Napoleon had been dealt a stunning defeat in the Battle of the Nile by British forces led by Admiral Horatio Nelson. Because of this coincidence, the mass gradually acquired the nickname Lord Nelson Mass. The title became indelible when, in 1800, Lord Nelson himself visited the Palais Esterhazy, accompanied by his British mistress, Lady Hamilton and may have in all probability heard the mass performed.
Antonio Vivaldi (1678 - 1741): Gloria
An Italian composer, virtuoso violinist, teacher and cleric.. Born in Venice, he is recognized as one of the greatest Baroque composers, and his influence during his lifetime was widespread across Europe. He is known mainly for composing many instrumental concertos, for the violin and a variety of other instruments, as well as sacred choral works and more than forty operas.
The Gloria in D is probably one of his best known sacred works, but it also reflects Vivaldi’s other skill as an opera composer. Venice in the early 18th century was the pleasure centre of Europe, and a visit to the opera was part of the court and social life of the city. Despite a licentious reputation, the opera houses were required to close for all important religious festivals and Saint’s Days. Vivaldi’s all-women orchestras and choirs were legendary sensations, but the girls needed to be protected from noblemen and travellers to the city. To keep them sheltered from the corruption and decadence of the visiting public, the girls sang from the upper galleries of the church, hidden behind the patterened grills, which only added to the theatrical sense of drama matched by Vivaldi’s music.
Come, gentle Spring Josef Haydn
Spring Gerard Manley Hopkins
Now is the month of Maying Thomas Morley
May John Clare
Sumer is icumen in Anon
Summer John Betjeman
As torrents in Summer Edward Elgar
Lord Emsworth and the Girlfriend P G Wodehouse
Piano Duet - Tango - Pasodoble Walton
Summertime Gershwin, arr. Ian Clarke
Cider with Rosie Laurie Lea
Solo: Silent Noon Vaughan Williams
Remembrances John Clare
The Evening Primrose Benjamin Britten
To Autumn John Keats
Linden Lea Vaughan Williams, arr. Somervell
Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen
Autumn Leaves Kosma, arr. Carter
Piano Duet - Country Gardens Percy Grainger
Ancient music: Winter is icumen in Exra Pound
A mirror for magistrates Thomas Sackville
Yver, vous n'estes qu'un villain Claude Debussy
A few crusted characters Thomas Hardy
King Arthur, Act3, the Frost Scene Henry Purcell
The coming of Spring Mary Dow Brine
It was a lover and his lass John Rutter
Brahms may have written Ein Deutsches Requiem in memory of his mother, who died in 1865; it is equally possible that he had in mind his great friend and mentor, Robert Schumann, whose madness and tragic death had profoundly affected the young Brahms, though he gave no indication of the inspiration for the work. His original conception was for a work of 6 movements, nos 1 - 4 and 6 - 7 of the present structure. In fact the first three movements were given a performance in 1867, then the 6 movements in 1868, before the composer decided to add the seventh (no. 5). The first performance of the full work was thus in 1869, a resounding success, cementing Brahms’ reputation as a composer of international stature. As with so much great music, the universal message of its vision transcends the circumstances of its conception, and the final structure exhibits a remarkable symmetry.
The title itself reflects Brahms’ use of the Lutheran Bible rather than the customary Latin one. He compiled the text himself from both Old and New Testaments, and from the Apocrypha, using the beatitudes from the sermon on the mount as a starting point. It has little in common with the conventional Requiem Mass, and omits the horrors of the Last Judgement - a central feature of the Catholic liturgy - and any final plea for mercy or prayers for the dead. It also makes only a passing reference in the last movement to Christian redemption through the death of Jesus. Brahms’s intention was to write a Requiem to comfort the living, not one for the souls of the dead.
The similarity of the sombre opening and quietly radiant closing movements exemplifies the work’s symmetrical structure. The funeral-march of the second, leading finally to a hymn of joy, is balanced in turn by the initial sotto voce questioning in the sixth, itself giving way to the triumphant theme of the glorious resurrection after the last trumpet. Similarly, the baritone solo in the third, ‘Lord, let me know mine end’, is paralleled in the fifth by the ethereal soprano solo, ‘Ye now have sorrow’. The third movement itself finishes with an extended fugue of positive hope, whilst the lyrical fourth section, the widely known and loved ‘How lovely are thy dwellings’, forms the heart of the work. This movement, of contemplation and rest, is a beautiful still point, framed as it is by the solemnity of the first three movements and the transition from grief to the certainty of comfort in the last three, the final movement ending, in calm assurance, with the same word with which the whole work began, ‘Blessed’.
An alternative version of the work was prepared by Brahms to be performed as a piano duet with four hands on one piano also incorporating the vocal parts, suggesting that it was intended as a self-contained version. It demonstrates much lovely piano writing, and this is the version we are using.
To set the mood we begin with the beloved, lyrical and expressive ‘Cantique de Jean Racine’ by Faure, followed by 2 appropriate and reverential piano duets by Brahms’ great friend, Robert Schumann.
The Concert was dedicated to Pat Walder, past society chairman and member of the tenor section. Pat is greatly missed for his musical knowledge and guidance of the society for many years.