The Glasgow Chamber Choir are delighted to be performing in the historic setting of Dunblane Cathedral as part of the Dunblane Arts Guild’s 2016-17 programme!
Founded in 1994, it has developed into one of Scotland’s finest amateur choirs, with a repertoire ranging from the Renaissance to the present day. An ensemble of around 30 singers, its current director is Michael Bawtree. Recent BBC radio engagements have included William Walton’s Henry V Suite with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Sunday Worship live and Bryan Burnett’s ‘Get it On’ show live on BBC Radio Scotland. The Choir has promoted forming links with European choirs, and has recently returned from a weekend in The Netherlands performing with St Joris Kamerkoor and Amersfoorts Youth Orchestra.
The St. Joris Kamerkoor was founded in 1985 based in Amersfoort and is currently directed by Wouter Verhage. Their focus is on the performance of sacred music at a high amateur level. Members of the Glasgow Chamber Choir are delighted to be re-uniting with their friends in spring 2017, for the third such choral exchange.
We hope you will feel warmly invited to come to this joint concert in Dunblane’s magnificent Cathedral. The programme on Sat 6th May 2017 at 7pm includes great works by Parry (Blest Pair of Sirens), Howells (Take Him Earth for Cherishing), Finzi, Stanford, Vaughn Williams, Liszt, Bruckner and Bach.
Blest Pair of Sirens is a setting by Hubert Parry, of John Milton’s ode, ‘At a Solemn Musick’, for choir and orchestra. A review of the first performance in 1887 for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee states its resounding success –
‘The choral writing is in eight parts and abounds in contrapuntal devices. At the same time the spirit and the accent of the words are carefully attended to, as befits a work in which “sphere-born harmonious sisters, voice and verse” are invoked to “wed their divine sounds, and mix’d power employ”.’ Our rendering of this great work will replace the orchestral accompaniment with the Dunblane organ.
Charles Villiers Stanford wrote his Magnificat in Bb for double choir as a peace offering for his friend, Hubert Parry. The two men enjoyed a friendship which had suffered strain. Sadly Parry died before the work was published, but Stanford dedicated it ‘to his name in grief’ in 1919, when Stansford’s own health was deteriorating, and he had seen the deaths of several of his outstanding pupils as a result of World War 1. Well acquainted with Bach’s Motets, Stanford employs complex contrapuntal treatment of his material in this energetic work.
The death from polio in 1935 of Herbert Howell’s nine-year-old son left a permanent mark on his music. Howells’ most famous work Hymnus Paradisi was a memorial to his son that had its musical roots in the unaccompanied Requiem that he composed in the early 1930s. Howells composed the serenely beautiful setting of the medieval anthem ‘Take Him Earth, For Cherishing’, following the death of John F Kennedy, though once again, the real dedicatee was his son, Michael.
Toward the Unknown Region was VW’s first major choral piece – a setting of Walt Whitman’s poem – and the work of a comparatively young man. But the music, no less than the text, has a transcendent timelessness that relates to any, and every, period in life. Stanford conducted the first performance in 1907, and it was inspired by Parry’s ‘Blest Pair of Sirens’.