Wednesday 29 November 2017

Enticing programme: RVW, Bernstein & Emma-Ruth Richards

Politican John Bright, whose words are used in RVW's Dona Nobis Pacem
Politican John Bright, whose words are used
in RVW's Dona Nobis Pacem
On Saturday 2 December 2017 the choir of King's College, Cambridge joins the Britten Sinfonia for an enticing programme at the Barbican which pairs RVW's Dona Nobis Pacem with Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, conducted by Stephen Cleobury with soloists Ailish Tynan (soprano) and Neal Davies (baritone). The programme also includes the world premiere of Emma-Ruth Richards' Sciamachy. The programme will be repeated at Saffron Hall on 16 February 2018.

Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, written for the 1965 Southern Cathedrals Festival in Chichester and commissioned by the then Dean of Chichester, the Very Rev. Walter Hussey, have proved one of Bernstein's most enduringly popular works perhaps because Bernstein based some of the music in the piece on discarded and unused material from his musical theatre works.

RVW's cantata Dona Nobis Pacem was premiered bythe Huddersfield Choral Society in 1936, and unlike some of the composer's more abstract works of the period, does have an explicit link to the international situation at the time. The text combines sections of the Latin mass with poems by Walt Whitman, sections of the Book of Jeremiah and a parliamentary speech by the politician John Bright (RVW speculated that it was the first time such a speech had been set to music).

The concert opens with the world premiere of Emma-Ruth Richards’s Sciamachy for chamber orchestra, directed by Britten Sinfonia leader Jacqueline Shave. Commissioned by the William Alwyn Foundation with support from individual donors to Britten Sinfonia’s Musically Gifted crowd-funding scheme, Sciamachy (taken from the Greek ‘skiamakhia’ meaning ‘fighting your shadow’) draws on the themes of Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms to journey through various fields of peace, conflict and resolution.

Full details from the Barbican website.

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