Banish winter’s chill with Duruflé’s warm harmonies
Hamilton Civic Choir is presenting Musical Souls, a feast of sacred sonic art with four beautiful, dramatic and exhilarating works of music.
The choir will open with Herbert Howells’ A Hymn to St Cecilia, the famous text for the patron saint of music. Howells’ setting is jubilant and uplifting with quintessentially ‘English’ modality and long stretched melodies. Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb is an iconic cantata in the choral repertory. It sets the text of Christopher Smart’s Jubilate Agno, a poem he composed whilst in an asylum. Smart’s prose and Britten’s setting separate into eight movements, each praising God through an assortment of animals and living things. The music is dramatic, with four soloists and pivotal organ accompaniment of operatic scale.
Maurice Duruflé’s setting of the Requiem is one of the most loved and beautiful. Characteristically French with its prominent use of the organ, washing textures and modal harmonies, most of the work builds its thematic material from Gregorian chant or plainsong, creating the unique mystic and spirituality.
We finish with Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo and one of his longer works for choir - Luminous Night of the Soul. Of course, not the first time singing Gjeilo, the choir performed with him in Carnegie Hall last year, this piece, like his others, makes use of contemporary harmonies and compositional devices, creating a very different, yet powerful and dramatic energy. The text, again theological, comes from the writings of St John of the Cross, a seventeenth-century Canon of the church and counter-reformer who was made a Catholic Saint.
Under the leadership of music director Timothy Carpenter, the choir will be accompanied by organist Dr Philip Smith and will perform the Duruflé with mezzo soprano soloist Cecily Shaw, and baritone soloist Aidan Phillips. The choir will also perform the Britten with soprano soloist Hannah Bryant, contralto soloist Laura Funaki, tenor soloist Kolitha Jayatunge and baritone soloist Aidan Phillips alongside the Civic Players, and will also perform the Gjeilo with assistant music director Francis Cowan on piano.
“This will be an uplifting concert heralding spring!” says Koli Jayatunge, Chairperson of the Hamilton Civic Choir. “The Duruflé Requiem is a very approachable work, but it has some challenging material which the choir has greatly enjoyed learning. We understand that it hasn’t been performed in Hamilton for quite some time, and are really looking forward to sharing it with a local audience”.
Hamilton Civic Choir is delighted to be singing this beautiful sacred music in St Peter’s Cathedral, one of the choir’s favourite venues with an acoustic that really shows the beauty of works from the choral repertoire.