Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

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.

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

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

The proposed content is St. John Passion – Bach. To be confirmed.

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.

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.

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.

December 7th 2019

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

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

 

Singing Day – Saturday 9th February 2019

As part of the preparation for our Anniversary concert, the Society will be hosting a Singing Day led by Aidan Oliver. Bishopwearmouth Choral Society was founded in 1948 and gave its first performance, Hayden’s Creation, in March 1949 in the then Bishopwearmouth Church. As part of our 70th Birthday celebrations we shall again perform Creation on Saturday March 30th 2019 at 7.30 p.m. in the same venue now known as Sunderland Minster.

As well as the Singing Day allowing us as members a preview of the work to be performed later in the year, we hope that it will attract singers from other choirs to see what Bishopwearmouth Choral Society is all about informally and through singing together.

Pre-booking is essential and the brochure with details about how to do that (and how attendees can apply for a special offer on tickets for the actual concert in March) can be found on this link BCS 70th Brochure

Aidan  is a conductor and choir director who works widely across the full range of symphonic, operatic and church music. Recently appointed the new director of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus, he is also the director of Philharmonia Voices and Director of Music at the Parliamentary Church, St Margaret’s, Westminster Abbey.

As guest chorus master Aidan Oliver has worked with choirs including the BBC Symphony Chorus, BBC Singers, Huddersfield Choral Society, the Chorus of English National Opera, and the RIAS Kammerchor of Berlin. He has directed the music at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey since 2003, overseeing many high-profile occasions including the memorial services of Lord Snowdon and Jo Cox MP. He has worked frequently as a guest on the music staff of the Royal Opera House and is the musical director of Dulwich Choral Society; since 2011 he has also been Associate Conductor of the St Endellion Summer Festival in Cornwall having first become involved there in 2004 at the invitation of Richard Hickox.

Philharmonia Voices was founded by Aidan in 2004 to provide the Philharmonia with an elite professional choir which has since collaborated with the orchestra on a huge range of projects. Working particularly closely with the Principal Conductor, Esa-Pekka Salonen, the choir has also worked frequently with conductors including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Christoph von Dohnányi, Jakub Hrůša, and John Wilson. Highlights for the choir in recent years have included the Philharmonia’s acclaimed 2016 series Stravinsky: Myths and Rituals, which won a South Bank Sky Arts Award; several appearances at the BBC Proms and European premières including Shostakovich’s rediscovered operatic fragment Orango.

Aidan will take up his position in Edinburgh in September 2018, while still living in London and pursuing an increasingly diverse conducting career.

It is hoped that singers from other groups will be able to join us in this opportunity.

Programme for the day :

Registration / Coffee 9.45 am onwards
First session 10.15-11.25 am.
Coffee.
Second session 11.45-12.45 pm.
Lunch.
Third session 1.45-2.50 pm.
Tea.
Final session 3.15- 4.15 pm. (including informal mini-performance of selected movements)

20th Century American Classics – June 22nd 2019

A Saturday evening concert in Sunderland Minster starting at 7.30 p.m., conducted by David Murray, featuring pieces by Barber, Bernstein and Copeland.

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 via the Book Tickets tab of this website. Doors open from 6.45 p.m.

All tickets are numbered, for administrative purposes, but this does not indicate a reserved seat unless you are a Patron of the Society.

The content will include Adagio for Strings – Barber, Chichester Psalms – Bernstein, Stomp your feet & Chinga Ring Chaw – Copland, Symphonic Dances – Bernstein.

‘In Terra Pax’ by Finzi & ‘Dona Nobis Pacem’ by Vaughan Williams – December 8th 2018

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

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Society’s 70th Anniversary Concert – Haydn’s Creation, 30th March 2019

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

This will be the Society’s 70th Anniversary concert and will replicate its first concert with a performance of Haydn’s ‘Creation’.

Soloists : Laurie Ashworth – soprano, Jorge Navarro Colorado – tenor, and Timothy Dickinson – bass baritone.

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.

It was Haydn’s encounter with Handel’s oratorios in London that sowed the seeds of his most famous and enduring masterpiece:The Creation. At the 1791 Handel Festival in Westminster Abbey he was overwhelmed by the monumental sublimity of the choruses in Handel’s Messiah and Israel in Egypt, performed by a gargantuan array of over 1000 players and singers.

While still in London Haydn expressed a desire to compose a work on a similarly exalted biblical theme that would appeal to a broad public. For the time being nothing came of the idea, but just before he left England for the last time, in the summer of 1795, the impresario and violinist Johann Peter Salomon handed him an anonymous English libretto on the subject of The Creation which had allegedly been intended for Handel half a century earlier.

Haydn immediately saw the musical potential in The Creation text, whose main sources were the book of Genesis, Milton’s Paradise Lost (especially for the animal descriptions in Part Two, and the hymn and love duet in Part Three) and, for several of the choruses of praise, the book of Psalms.

Back in Vienna, the composer asked the Imperial Court Librarian, the formidable Baron Gottfried van Swieten, for his opinion. In Swieten’s own words, ‘I recognized at once that so elevated a subject would give Haydn the opportunity…to express the full power of his inexhaustible genius; I therefore encouraged him to take the work in hand….’ Swieten made a highly skilled job of translating and adapting the libretto,.

The structure of The Creation has an ideal simplicity and strength. The first of the oratorio’s three parts begins with “Representation of Chaos”, an orchestral prelude that uses stark chords and shifting harmonies to portray the formlessness and disorder that preceded the Creation. The six days of creation are each introduced in recitative by the archangels Raphael (bass), Uriel (tenor) and Gabriel (soprano). Each new creation – light, water, landscapes, plants, and beasts of land and sea and air – is depicted with lavish tone painting. The story of Adam and Eve begins in the third part, and focuses on the happy union between Adam and Eve, culminating in a tender marriage duet

 The Creation received immediate acclaim when it was performed before a packed aristocratic audience in the Schwarzenberg Palace in Vienna, first at an open rehearsal on 29 April 1798 and then at its official premiere the following day. Haydn, who conducted, was as overwhelmed as his listeners.

Replying to a letter expressing admiration for The Creation, Haydn wrote in 1802 that ‘Often, when I was struggling with all kinds of obstacles… a secret voice whispered to me: “There are so few happy and contented people in this world; sorrow and grief follow them everywhere; perhaps your labour will become a source from which the careworn… will for a while derive peace and refreshment.”’ These words are typical of a devout, humble yet by no means naive man.  Haydn’s hopes were richly fulfilled in his lifetime. In our own sceptical and precarious age we can still delight, perhaps with a touch of nostalgia, in Haydn’s unsullied optimism, expressed in some of the most lovable and life-affirming music ever composed.

The end result was the greatest triumph of Haydn’s career.

‘In Terra Pax’ Finzi & ‘Dona Nobis Pacem’ Vaughan Williams – 8/12/2018

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.

Gerald Finzi was born in London on July 14, 1901, and spent his early childhood in London. His father died when he was just seven and following the outbreak of the First World War Finzi moved with his mother to Harrogate, in Yorkshire. There Finzi was able to study composition with the composer Ernest Farrar and from 1917 with Edward Bairstow at York Minster. But attracted by the beauty of the English Countryside, Finzi moved to Painswick, Gloucestershire, in 1922 where he was able to compose in tranquility

A series of tragedies profoundly affected Finzi in his early years. By the time he was eighteen he had lost his father, three elder brothers and his much-loved music teacher, killed in action. This dreadful sequence of events, and the appalling losses of the First World War that formed the backdrop to his adolescence, gave Finzi an acute awareness of the impermanence of life, confirmed with grim finality when at the age of fifty he discovered that he was dying of leukaemia. These experiences to a large extent account for the hint of melancholy underlying much of his music.

Written just two years before Finzi’s death in 1956, In Terra Pax skilfully juxtaposes words of Robert Bridges (which are set for the baritone soloist) with the familiar Christmas passage from St Luke (set for the soprano soloist and chorus). With a childlike serenity of style, the work unites all its feelings, images and familiar events into one simple, shapely musical narrative. With its seasonal theme, it makes the most attractive centre-piece for any Christmas choral programme.

Ralph Vaughan Williams was born into England’s upper class, destined for the nonworking life of a gentleman. But he grew up during a renaissance in English music, spurred by knighted composers Charles Hubert Parry, Charles Villiers Stanford, and George Grove. At London’s Royal College of Music, Vaughan Williams studied composition under Parry, who believed England should have its own distinct music, free of German influence. In an era when many homes had pianofortes and choral societies were widespread across England, the music of the German masters ruled. Vaughan Williams and his friend Gustav Holst dedicated themselves to creating English-defined music, reviewing each other’s compositions with honesty and vision for 40 years.

His cantata Dona Nobis Pacem, premiered in 1936, opens with a heartrending cry expressing both the composer’s and the public’s anguish over the worsening political situation in Europe, which would lead again to war. Vaughan Williams devoted the years of World War II to helping refugees find shelter and work, providing food by planting huge vegetable gardens and keeping chickens, and helping to stage free lunchtime concerts.

The whole work is welded together by the composer’s sense of urgency; his ‘main inspiration is drawn not from the soil of England, but from the whole world going mad around him’. The music for the words from Micah (‘nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more …’), and thereafter, becomes more optimistic, here the music returns to a state of hesitant prayer sung ppp by the chorus and solo soprano, a prayer that at the time was not to be granted.