The joyful exhortation to lift our voices and sing praise to the Creator is found in several of the psalms and has inspired composers from the earliest times. Our recital on 30 June leads up to one of the masterpieces of choral music from any era, J. S. Bach’s Singet dem Herrn, BWV 225. As we look ahead to our visit to Germany this September, as part of the twin-town cultural exchanges between Tübingen and Durham, the programme has been chosen partly to celebrate the diverse European musical culture of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, with joyful psalm-settings and organ pieces by great composers of the English and German Baroque. We also present two contemporary masterpieces by James MacMillan and Julian Anderson.
Programme note by our Musical Director, Julian Wright, for our concert Songs of Farewell, at Ushaw College on 24 March.
This recital focuses intensely on absence, loss and the afterlife, through richly scored masterpieces for multi-voice choir from the baroque and the early twentieth century.
Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry, who died a hundred years ago this year, made a great impact on the public musical life of our nation. He wrote the tune for 'Jerusalem', which as well as becoming an unofficial national anthem for England was also adopted by the suffragette movement and later by the Women’s Institute; whilst his majestic anthem 'I was Glad' is sung at coronations, royal weddings and other grand occasions.
We’ll be exploring a very different side of Parry's music in our concert on 24 March when we sing his Songs of Farewell, six pieces for unaccompanied choir in which Parry reflects on loss, heaven and the approaching end of his own life.
We’re delighted to announce that we’ve received generous financial support from the Arts Council National Lottery Fund for our Monteverdi Vespers this Saturday, as well as grants from a number of local trusts.
The funding that we receive for our big orchestral concerts helps us to create something that we think is rather special, helping us in our aim of bringing high quality performances to as many people as possible, and to nurturing the next generation of musicians and sharing of some of the greatest music ever written with our community.
In all his music – the madrigals, operas and sacred works – Monteverdi stands out for the way he prioritises the text, always using the music to draw out the sense of the words. He does this on the large scale with the overall mood of each movement in the Vespers, but he also revels in painting in little details, and it's been fun trying to spot them during rehearsals.
Here are just a few we’ve noticed – there are undoubtedly many more.
The programme note by our Musical Director, Julian Wright, for our summer concert "The Cloths of Heaven", on 24 June 2017 at St Brandon's Church, Brancepeth.
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