Blessed Cecilia

22 June 2013, Elvet Methodist Church, Durham.
With Ben Rowarth and soloists from Renaissance 

O Sing unto the Lord: Julian Anderson (solos: Camilla Harris, Charlotte Heslop, Hugo Hymas, Ben Rowarth).
I was Glad: Henry Purcell
Hymn to the Virgin: Benjamin Britten
Fairest Isle: Purcell, realised Britten (Soprano, Charlotte LaThrope)
Where is thy God?: Ben Rowarth (conducted by Ben Rowarth)
The evening primrose: Britten
Evening Hymn: Purcell, realised Britten (Soprano, Camilla Harris)
The Evening Watch: Gustav Holst (solos: Tom Rowarth, Charlotte Heslop)
Verses on St Cecilia’s Day: RIchard Rodney Bennett (Durham Singers only)
Corpus Christi Carol: Britten (Alto, Marnell Blair)
Hear my prayer: Purcell (Renaissance only)
Canticle I: My beloved is mine: Britten  (Tenor, Hugo Hymas)
Set me as a seal: William Walton (conducted by Ben Rowarth. Solos: Tom Rowarth, Charlotte LaThrope)
Hymn to St Cecilia: Britten (solos: Camilla Harris, Charlotte LaThrope, Marnell Blair, Tom Rowarth, Peter Wilkie)

Britten’s musical legacy goes far beyond the translucent works of genius that he wrote for stage, chamber music ensemble and church choir. The Aldeburgh Festival continues to carry his message of inspiration for new composers today, and is a beacon for musical excellence. The Britten-Pears Foundation that has sponsored our Britten season this spring promotes work that brings classical music and high-level performance to new generations of young musicians. And Britten himself brought a new understanding of the music of earlier generations of composers, notably Purcell. There is a special Purcellian quality of lightness, brightness and rhythm in much of our programme tonight, not least in Julian Anderson’s wonderful 1999 psalm of praise which opens our programme. But in this collaboration with a group of outstanding young singers from Durham we hope to underline the importance of Britten’s inspiration in the twenty-first century – the best music, performed with freshness and vibrancy connects deeply with all of us; and all of us have a responsibility to promote not just new music but new performers. Britten shines on our musical life still. Transmitting that light and inspiration is not just about performers and audiences today: it is about doing things in our musical work now that will give a sense of inspiration and excellence to the generations of musicians who will follow us. We are so excited by our programme this evening, because it has given us an opportunity to provide a musical framework within which the best new music and voices in Durham can be heard and appreciated. And we celebrate all of this under the star of Britten himself, with a performance of his most moving and personal hymn to music, the Hymn to St Cecilia.

Julian Wright, Musical Director


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