The Durban Chamber Choir performs an engaging programme of English choral music this month.
Exciting news for lovers of choral music - the Durban Chamber Choir under the musical direction of Christopher Cockburn will perform an hour-long programme of English choral music in Durban and Pietermaritzburg this month. Their programme, covering music from the Renaissance and Romantic periods, is devoted to two important British composers, William Byrd (1540-1623) and Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924).
This event will be presented at St Thomas’s Church in Musgrave on Sunday May 17, and repeated at the Lutheran Church in Hayfield, Pietermaritzburg, on Sunday May 24. Both concerts start at 3pm. Tickets for both concerts available at the door are R50 per person (R30 for students and pensioners). Tea and cake will be served after each performance.
“During the Renaissance, English music could hold its own with the best produced anywhere in Europe,” Cockburn notes. “After the death of Purcell, however, and particularly as a result of the influence of Handel on English composers, the most significant musical developments moved elsewhere. It was only at the end of the nineteenth century, and notably in the music of Stanford, that signs began to appear of another ‘musical Renaissance’ which would reconnect British music to the European mainstream and produce composers of the stature of Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst (the last two being pupils of Stanford).”
Byrd and Stanford will each be represented in the Chamber Choir programme by a varied selection of works, sacred and secular, unaccompanied and with organ, including settings by both composers of the Latin text ‘Justorum animae’ (The souls of the just) and of the Anglican Evening Canticles. “In addition to the stylistic differences between the composers, the programme includes strong contrasts of mood: from Byrd’s joyful ‘Deo gratias’ and sorrowful ‘Wounded I am’ to Stanford’s light-hearted ‘Shall we go dance?’ and serene ‘Blue Bird’, this last being as exquisite a miniature as any in the choral repertoire.”
The two halves of the programme will be linked by an attractive rarity from the period between these two composers, the Duet for Organ by Samuel Wesley, which will be played by Cockburn and Jacques Heyns.