In Tune with Heaven

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Our Winter programme on 17 November at Cirencester Parish Church (7:30pm) and 24 November at St Mary’s Church, Charlton Kings, Cheltenham (7:30pm) contains sacred music from the Renaissance to the present day.

Francisco Guerrero was born in Seville in 1528 and died there in 1599. His motet ‘Ave virgo sanctissima’ is in praise of Mary, “bright star of the sea, precious pearl, beautiful as the lily”. The fluid expressiveness of the music hides a strict canon between the two soprano parts.

Fifty years younger than Guerrero, Thomas Weelkes was a colourful character. In 1613 he was dismissed by the dean and chapter of Chichester Cathedral for being drunk at the organ and using bad language during divine service. However, his musical qualities allowed for his reinstatement and he remained at Chichester until his death in 1623 although his behaviour did not improve; in 1619 Weelkes was again reported to the Bishop. His Gloria is characteristically exuberant.

Today, if Josef Rheinberger is remembered at all, it is for his challenging and elaborate organ music. However he was a prolific composer of opera, symphonies and chamber music as well as church music including twelve masses. He lived from 1851 until his death in 1901 in Munich and his music is strongly influenced by that of Brahms and Bach.

Randall Thompson’s most popular and recognizable choral work is his anthem ‘Alleluia’, commissioned by Serge Koussevitsky for the opening of the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, Massachusetts in 1940. A noted teacher as well as composer, Thompson worked at the University of Virginia and at Harvard.

Herbert Sumsion’s compositional style reflects the influence of his more famous contemporaries Howells, Finzi, and Vaughan Williams. Organist of Gloucester Cathedral between 1928 ans 1967 ‘They that go down to the sea in ships’ is a pinnacle of the Anglican repertoire responding colourfully to the different moods of the sea.

Paul Mealor rose to prominence with the composition of this work ‘Ubi Caritas’ for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011.

The full programme will include:

Ave virgo sanctissima​ – Francisco Guerrero
Gloria in excelsis Deo​ – Thomas Weelkes
Mass in E flat Op 109 – ​Josef Rheinberger 
Alleluia​ – Randall Thompson​
They that go down to the sea – ​Herbert Sumsion​
Ubi Caritas – ​Paul Mealor​
Jubilate​ – Benjamin Britten​

Tickets (£15, concessions £12) are available at the door or online here

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