Music’s Praise – 23 June 2018

June 2018

Michael Hurd, the composer of the headline work in our programme ‘Music’s Praise’, was born in Gloucester in 1928 and died in 2006. Written for the Stroud Festival in 1968, the work sets four poems by Alexander Pope, William Strode, William Shakespeare and Robert Herrick for chorus with an accompaniment of string ensemble or piano. The music mines the rich vein of twentieth century English pastoral romanticism, contrasting differing ways in which music can reflect and inspire the human condition.

When John Holloway set ‘Six Poems of John Drinkwater’ in celebration of Cantores’ first twenty years in 2011 it had been some decades since he had performed Michael Hurd’s songs but the unconscious influences are clear! John Drinkwater was one of the so-called Dymock poets, including Rupert Brooke and Edward Thomas, some of whom lived in or near the village in Gloucestershire and were writing in the years immediately preceding the First World War. Their words conjure a lost world of bucolic innocence and the looming tragedy of war.

The programme also presents three vocally challenging Baroque masterpieces, of which perhaps the best known is Handel’s famous coronation anthem ‘Zadok the Priest’, composed for George II in 1727, some 42 years after Purcell’s had composed ‘My Heart is Inditing’ for the coronation of James II in 1685, the year of Handel’s birth. The work juxtaposes ensembles with full choruses, with notably complex overlapping rhythms and textures.

The motets of J.S.Bach paved the way for generations of succeeding composers, in particular Mendelssohn and Brahms. Bach’s lines and textures are uncompromisingly instrumental, yet the music displays his incomparably profound response to the text, which in this case is drawn from Psalm 117 ‘Praise the Lord all ye people’.

Cantores will present the same programme again on Saturday 30 June in Forthampton Parish Church (near Tewkesbury) at 7.30pm.  Tickets £15, available on the door or telephone 01684 292401.  Concessions available; U16s free.

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Lux Aeterna

Lux Aeterna

Cantores’ programme to be performed on March 17th in Cirencester Parish Church and on March 24th in St Peter’s Church Leckhampton comprises works inspired by the idea of light as a symbol of wisdom, enlightenment or creativity.

The main work is ‘Lux Aeterna’ by the American composer Morten Lauridsen and written in 1997. The five movements contain texts from the Requiem where light is seen as the ultimate state of rest and the Latin hymns ‘O nata lux’ and ‘Veni sancte spiritus’. This music, always radiant and often ecstatic, has helped to make Lauridsen one of the most popular composers currently writing for choirs.

In stark contrast is Brahms’ large scale motet ‘Warum ist das Licht gegeben’ – ‘Why has light been given for such trouble?’. This begins with a bleak and chromatic fugue but resolves finally into the major key, ‘In peace and joy I go my way’.

The programme also includes motets by Tallis and Byrd, two settings of ‘Hail gladdening light’ by Charles Wood and Alexander Grechanninov and a major work by John Rutter, in a style far distant from his Christmas carols, ‘Hymn to the Creator of Light’.

Tickets (£15; £12 for concessions; under-16s free) are available from Andrew on 01242 573193 and online for Cirencester and Leckhampton.

German Masterpieces

german-masterpieces

John Holloway has chosen a programme of Baroque and Romantic German pieces for Cantores’ next concert – to be performed in Cirencester Parish Church on Saturday 18 March; and again on 25 March at Holy Apostles Church in Cheltenham.  Both concerts start at 7.30pm.

Two motets by Heinrich Schuetz and two JS Bach cantatas – nos. 4 and 191 – will satisfy fans of Baroque music, and most people will love Mozart’s famous ‘Ave Verum Corpus’.  Two motets by Mendelssohn and Brahms’ exquisite ‘Geistliches Lied’ comprise the Romantic section of the concert.

We will be joined by our usual string ensemble, who have accompanied us on many occasions; and we also welcome back David Whitehead as our organist for these concerts.

If you have heard these forces performing before, you will not want to miss this concert – and if you haven’t, then come along and hear some glorious music performed by some superb musicians and hear Cantores at their best.

Cantores next perform German Classical and Romantic masterpieces in March 2017, and this will undoubtedly suit their rich, chordal sound.’ (David Watt)

So put the date(s) in your diary and buy your tickets early – this could be a sell-out.