Posts Tagged ‘ British Choirs ’

James MacMillan (b1959): Miserere

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February 17, 2015

James MacMillan's glorious setting of  Psalm 50 (51)or The Miserere as it's more often called was commissioned by the Flanders Festival Antwerp for the 2009 Laus Polyphoniae Festival and received its first performance at a concert given in the Carolus-Borromeuskerk, Antwerp, by The Sixteen conducted by Harry Christophers. It's an eight part setting and while it does make some allusions to Allegri's setting its scope is far far greater than that of Allegri's work. The more I hear it the more I like it and I can't make up my mind what aspect of the work I like and admire more. Whether it's the opening homophony for the lower voices or the way in which MacMillan contrasts that homophony with the lengthy improvisatio or how he uses the chant or the magnificent climax I find all of them stunningly good. I hope you'll enjoy listening as much as I do.

mfi

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William Byrd (±1539-1623): Teach Me, O Lord

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January 2, 2015

It must have been an agonising experience for Byrd to see his hopes for the five-year English Catholic renaissance of 1553–58 dashed with the death of Queen Mary. A devout, and stubborn Catholic he was to live the remainder of his life under protestant monarchs. Fortunately for him, and for us, he managed the difficult and dangerous balancing act of remaining a faithful and practising Catholic while simultaneously rising to be a pillar of the Elizabethan musical establishment. Having Elizabeth as his protector undoubtedly helped! It may seem strange that such a devout Catholic produced such beautiful music for protestant services and "Teach me, O Lord" a setting of verses from Psalm 119 is very beautiful.

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4th Sunday of Lent 2014 Robert Fayrfax (1464-1521): Maria plena virtutate

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March 30, 2014

Of all Fayrfax's works his meditation on the Passion "Maria plena virtute" (Mary full of virtue) is the one that I find the most moving.

markfromireland

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Advent Antiphons 2013: O Clavis David

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December 20, 2013

The sources for this Antiphon Isaiah 22:22, Jeremiah 13:13; 51:19 , Matthew 4:16; 16:19, Luke 1:79, and Revelation 3:7 all deal in some way or another with the concept of holding keys. Ceremonial keys were a symbol both of authority and of stewardship in Biblical times and a symbolic key worn on the shoulder was a symbol both priestly authority, stewardship, and of course kingship. Thus Isaiah 9:6:

parvulus enim natus est nobis filius datus est nobis et factus est principatus super umerum eius et vocabitur nomen eius Admirabilis consiliarius Deus fortis Pater futuri saeculi Princeps pacis

For a CHILD IS BORN to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace.

markfromireland

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Edward Elgar (1857-1934): The Apostles, Op 49 – Prologue: The Spirit of the Lord

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November 30, 2013

Elgar statue Great Malvern The Apostles was the first of Elgar's two Biblical oratorios to be completed and received its first performance at Birmingham Town Hall on October 14th 1903 it tells of Jesus calling the Apostles, his teaching them and his betrayal and the ascension. Four years later its Prologue was extracted by the music publishing firm Novello and printed as part of their famous series of choruses for use in churches. It's a composite text which Elgar compiled from a variety of Biblical sources and, as you might expect from a prologue, it introduces many of  the themes and motifs to be found in the oratorio. This thematic diversity is one of the reasons why it's not necessarily the easiest piece of music in the world to sing when sung well however it's a very worthwhile piece of music in its own right. Enjoy :-).

markfromireland

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