Archive for November, 2019

CANCELLED – St. John Passion – J S Bach – April 4th 2020

This concert has been CANCELLED.

A Saturday evening concert in Sunderland Minster starting at 7.30 p.m., conducted by David Murray.

Tickets £14.00 for Nave (£8 concessions for full-time students and on income related benefits) or £8.00 (Gallery – limited view). Accompanied under 16s free. Tickets are available from members of the Society, at the door, or on-line from http://www.wegottickets.com/BCS – who also have a direct link on the home page of this website. Doors open from 6.45 p.m. Apart from seats marked for Patrons there are no allocated seats.

To be sung in the original German.

Soloists :          Elinor Rolfe Johnson – Soprano, Jorge Navarro Colorado – tenor (Evangelist), James Laing – countertenor, Felix Kemp – baritone (Christus), Nathaniel Thomas Aitkin – tenor, and Patrick Owston – baritone.

From 1723 until his death Bach was employed as Kantor at the Thomasschule in Leipzig. It was a prestigious but demanding post, requiring him not only to teach at the school but also to play the organ, train the choir and compose the music for the city’s two principal Lutheran churches, Thomaskirche and Nikolaikirche, as well as supervising and training the musicians at two others. Despite this heavy workload and frequent disputes with his employers, Bach composed some of his greatest music during this period. His choral compositions alone include such enduring masterpieces as the Mass in B minor, Magnificat, Christmas Oratorio, and the St John and St Matthew Passions.

The St John Passion, a sacred oratorio by Johann Sebastian Bach, is “carefully designed with a great deal of musico-theological intent”.

The original Latin title Passio secundum Joannem translates to “Passion according to John”. Bach’s large choral composition in two parts on German text, written to be performed in a Lutheran service on Good Friday, is based on the Passion, as told in two chapters from the Gospel of John (John 18 and John 19) in the translation by Martin Luther, with two short interpolations from the Gospel of Matthew. During the vespers service, the two parts of the work were performed before and after the sermon.

Part I covers the events until Peter’s denial of Jesus, Part II concludes with the burial of Jesus. The Bible text is reflected in contemporary poetry and in chorales that often end a “scene” of the narration, similar to the way a chorale ends most Bach cantatas. An anonymous poet supplied a few texts himself, quoted from other Passion texts and inserted various stanzas of chorales by nine hymn writers. The Passion, close to Bach’s heart, has an “immediate dramatic quality”.

The anonymous libretto draws on existing works and is compiled from recitatives and choruses narrating the Passion of Christ as told in the Gospel of John, ariosos and arias reflecting on the action, and chorales using hymn tunes and texts familiar to a congregation of Bach’s contemporaries. Compared with the St Matthew Passion, the St John Passion has been described as more extravagant, with an expressive immediacy, at times more unbridled and less “finished”.

Originally Bach intended that the St John Passion would be first performed in the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, but due to a last-minute change by the music council, it was first performed on Good Friday of 1724 in the St. Nicholas Church, shortly after Bach’s 39th birthday. Bach quickly agreed to their desire to move the service to St. Nicholas Church, but pointed out that the booklet was already printed, that there was no room available and that the harpsichord needed some repair, all of which, however, could be attended to at little cost; but he requested that a little additional room be provided in the choir loft of St. Nicholas Church, where he planned to place the musicians needed to perform the music. The council agreed and had to send out a flyer announcing the new location to all the people around Leipzig!

CANCELLED – Requiem – Brahms – June 20th 2020

A Saturday evening concert in Sunderland Minster starting at 7.30 p.m., conducted by David Murray.

The proposed programme is Brahms Requiem but may be subject to change.

UNDER REVIEW – Messiah -Handel – December 5th 2020

A Saturday evening concert in Sunderland Minster starting at 7.30 p.m., conducted by David Murray.

The proposed programme is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ but may be subject to change.

St John Passion – J S Bach – March 27th 2021

A Saturday evening concert in Sunderland Minster starting at 7.30 p.m., conducted by David Murray.

It is hoped that this concert, which was due to have been performed in April 2020, will take place with the same soloists if at all possible in the circumstances. Content and details will be confirmed in due course as the public health situation is clarified.

Tickets £14.00 for Nave (£8 concessions for full-time students and on income related benefits) or £8.00 (Gallery – limited view). Accompanied under 16s free. Tickets are available from members of the Society, at the door, or on-line from http://www.wegottickets.com/BCS – who also have a direct link on the home page of this website. Doors open from 6.45 p.m. Apart from seats marked for Patrons there are no allocated seats.

To be sung in the original German.

Soloists :          Elinor Rolfe Johnson – Soprano, Jorge Navarro Colorado – tenor (Evangelist), James Laing – countertenor, Felix Kemp – baritone (Christus), Nathaniel Thomas Aitkin – tenor, and Patrick Owston – baritone.

From 1723 until his death Bach was employed as Kantor at the Thomasschule in Leipzig. It was a prestigious but demanding post, requiring him not only to teach at the school but also to play the organ, train the choir and compose the music for the city’s two principal Lutheran churches, Thomaskirche and Nikolaikirche, as well as supervising and training the musicians at two others. Despite this heavy workload and frequent disputes with his employers, Bach composed some of his greatest music during this period. His choral compositions alone include such enduring masterpieces as the Mass in B minor, Magnificat, Christmas Oratorio, and the St John and St Matthew Passions.

The St John Passion, a sacred oratorio by Johann Sebastian Bach, is “carefully designed with a great deal of musico-theological intent”.

The original Latin title Passio secundum Joannem translates to “Passion according to John”. Bach’s large choral composition in two parts on German text, written to be performed in a Lutheran service on Good Friday, is based on the Passion, as told in two chapters from the Gospel of John (John 18 and John 19) in the translation by Martin Luther, with two short interpolations from the Gospel of Matthew. During the vespers service, the two parts of the work were performed before and after the sermon.

Part I covers the events until Peter’s denial of Jesus, Part II concludes with the burial of Jesus. The Bible text is reflected in contemporary poetry and in chorales that often end a “scene” of the narration, similar to the way a chorale ends most Bach cantatas. An anonymous poet supplied a few texts himself, quoted from other Passion texts and inserted various stanzas of chorales by nine hymn writers. The Passion, close to Bach’s heart, has an “immediate dramatic quality”.

The anonymous libretto draws on existing works and is compiled from recitatives and choruses narrating the Passion of Christ as told in the Gospel of John, ariosos and arias reflecting on the action, and chorales using hymn tunes and texts familiar to a congregation of Bach’s contemporaries. Compared with the St Matthew Passion, the St John Passion has been described as more extravagant, with an expressive immediacy, at times more unbridled and less “finished”.

Originally Bach intended that the St John Passion would be first performed in the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, but due to a last-minute change by the music council, it was first performed on Good Friday of 1724 in the St. Nicholas Church, shortly after Bach’s 39th birthday. Bach quickly agreed to their desire to move the service to St. Nicholas Church, but pointed out that the booklet was already printed, that there was no room available and that the harpsichord needed some repair, all of which, however, could be attended to at little cost; but he requested that a little additional room be provided in the choir loft of St. Nicholas Church, where he planned to place the musicians needed to perform the music. The council agreed and had to send out a flyer announcing the new location to all the people around Leipzig!

 

Future Programme Proposals

 

The following is the proposed programme of concerts over the coming years. Actual content may be subject to change or additions and all concerts will be advertised as individual items in due course. All dates are 7.30 p.m. on Saturdays in Sunderland Minster unless otherwise noted.

April 4th 2020

St. John Passion – Bach.

June 20th 2020

Requiem – Brahms

December 5th 2020

Messiah – Handel.

March 27th 2021

Petite Messe Solennelle – Rossini.

June 19th 2021

Requiem & Cantique de Jean Racine – Faure, Panis Angelicus – Franck.

December 4th 2021

Content to be confirmed.

St.Nicolas – Britten – December 7th 2019.

A Saturday evening concert in Sunderland Minster starting at 7.30 p.m., conducted by David Murray.

Soloist: Richard Pinkstone

Programme –  St. Nicolas – Britten, Beatus Vir – Monteverdi, The Twelve Apostles – Britten, Simple Symphony – Britten.

Tickets £14.00 for Nave (£8 concessions for full-time students and on income related benefits) or £8.00 (Gallery – limited view). Accompanied under 16s free. Tickets are available from members of the Society, at the door, or on-line from http://www.wegottickets.com/BCS – who also have a direct link on the home page of this website. Doors open from 6.45 p.m. Apart from seats marked for Patrons there are no allocated seats.

Saint Nicolas, Op. 42, is a cantata with music by Benjamin Britten on a text by Eric Crozier, completed in 1948. It covers the legendary life of Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, Lycia, in a dramatic sequence of events. The composer wrote the work for the centenary of Lancing College in Sussex, with the resources of the institution in mind. It is scored for mixed choir, tenor soloist, four boys singers, strings, piano duet, organ and percussion. The only professionals required are the tenor soloist, a string quintet to lead the other strings, and the percussionists. Saint Nicolas is Britten’s first work for amateur musicians. The premiere was the opening concert of the first Aldeburgh Festival in June 1948, with Peter Pears as the soloist. St. Nicolas marks Britten’s first professional work intended primarily for performance by amateur musicians. While the piece was written for Lancing College, the first performance was actually, with the College’s permission, the opening concert of the first Aldeburgh Festival on 5 June 1948. Crozier’s libretto paints a dramatically bold portrait of the saint’s character, exaggerating the legends and glory that have accumulated over the centuries around Nicolas’s story. Britten’s music enhances the drama of Crozier’s text using striking contrasts in instrumentation, vocal style, and musical textures

Beatus vir, “Blessed is the man …” in Latin, are the first words in the Vulgate Bible of both Psalm 1 and Psalm 112 In each case, the words are used to refer to frequent and significant uses of these psalms in art, although the two psalms are prominent in different fields, art in the case of Psalm 1 and music in the case of Psalm 112.
Psalm 112 has been included in various places in Western Christian liturgy, especially in the context of vespers, and has been rather unusually popular for musical settings, which are generally known by their opening words, “Beatus vir”. The Vulgate text actually begins “alleluia reversionis Aggei et Zacchariae beatus vir qui timet Dominum …”, translated as “Praise the Lord!/Blessed is the man who fears the Lord”, but settings normally ignore the first words, beginning at “Blessed is the man” (“beatus vir”).

Today probably the best known is Claudio Monteverdi’s setting of 1640, SV 268, from his Selva morale e spirituale, also known as the Vespers of 1640. This piece is often performed by itself, and has been described as “one of the most attractive and inspired settings of the Selva morale and one of the few sacred works of Monteverdi’s later years that has become widely known. The motet is a superb example of Monteverdi’s dramatic style. It contrasts pairs or small groups of voices with the weight of the full chorus, a technique known as stile concertato – one of the most characteristic features of baroque music. The piece is scored for six-part chorus and soloists, with organ, basso continuo and two obbligato violin parts.

The Twelve Apostles by Benjamin Britten was scored for Tenor solo, unison voices and piano. It was written for Peter Pears and the London Boy Singers, and first performed by them with the composer playing the piano on 16th June 1962 at Aldeburgh Parish Church as part of the 15th Aldeburgh Festival. The text is adapted from The Ten Commandments, printed in English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians. The tune is from the journal of the Folk Song Society, No. 21, November 1918.

The Simple Symphony, Op. 4, is a work for string orchestra or quartet by Benjamin Britten. It was written between December 1933 and February 1934 in Lowestoft, using bits of score that the composer had written for the piano as a young teenager, between 1923 and 1926. It was composed for string orchestra and received its first performance in 1934 at Stuart Hall in Norwich, with Britten conducting an amateur orchestra.  The piece is dedicated to Audrey Alston (Mrs Lincolne Sutton), Britten’s viola teacher during his childhood. The piece is based on eight themes which Britten wrote during his childhood (two per movement) and for which he had a particular fondness. He completed his final draft of this piece at age twenty.