Music for Kings, Queens and Gods

“Music for Kings, Queens & Gods”
Saturday 23 February (8pm)

‘the Orpheus Britannicus . . . a greater musical genius England never had’… So Henry Purcell was described by Roger North, James II’s Attorney General.

In this concert the Festival audience will discover again Purcell’s genius.  “Music for Kings, Queen’s & Gods” will demonstrate how Henry Purcell created his own magic in blending music with words.

PurcellAs part of his duties at Westminster Abbey and the Royal Court, Purcell wrote at least 65 full and verse anthems, numerous Service settings and a further 35 other sacred vocal works.  The richness of his sacred music will be presented at this concert through four wonderful verse anthems, sung by the award-winning Victoria Children’s Choir and the St Christopher Singers. Get a taste of what will be in store through the link below.

Along with his contributions to the court and the church, Purcell wrote some of the finest 17th century music for the English theatre; this program will include orchestral suites from three of his most famous works for the stage, ‘King Arthur’, ‘The Fairy Queen’ and ‘Dido and Aeneas’, dramatic and richly expressive music.

By the end of this concert, the audience should understand why Holst, Vaughan Williams, Britten, Tippett and Pete Townsend of ‘The Who’ were among Purcell’s 20th-century admirers.

“This music of Purcell is exciting, vivacious, dynamic and invigorating. It is different from other music we have sung at this festival in a few ways. One of these is that Purcell is the first English composer we’ve sung in the time I’ve been involved with the festival. Singing in English is a treat, and an added challenge in some ways. I am very excited for the performance and urge you all to come. It is not a musical experience you will soon forget.” – a Victoria Children’s Choir Chorister

For your listening pleasure: from Purcell’s anthem “Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem”
(The Choir of New College, Oxford)

[audio:praisethelord.mp3]

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2 thoughts on “Music for Kings, Queens and Gods

  1. Nice to hear about the Purcell concert on February 23. But the fancy title tells us not one single word about the actual program: what pieces will be sung and who will sing them. Yes, two choirs, but no soloists. Although the orchestra is a known quantity, there are a good number of pretty inadequate singers around the place that one doesn’t want to waste an evening listening to. Could you manage to be a little less secretive?

  2. The Saturday 23 February concert will feature the performance of four of Purcell’s verse anthems, essentially choir anthems, parts of which are sung by individual voices alternating with the full choir, allowing fuller expression of the text. Purcell must be considered a master at this form of anthem, a major reason for their inclusion in the program. Purcell wrote these anthems in the knowledge that they would be sung by choir members and their performance I the Saturday concert will mirror this (ie. the verse parts will be sung by members of the joint choir). Of course, some of the men at the Chapel Royal were extremely good singers, many of them professional singers, and Purcell’s writing is evidence of fine adult voices in all sections. One of Purcell’s most reputable choristers was the Reverend John Gostling, a bass whose low notes brought him fame, for whom the verse anthem ‘O sing unto the Lord’ was likely written.
    In church Services today these verse anthems are rarely sung with any regularity, and if they are, they usually have to be performed with an organ accompaniment. This performance will allow the Festival audience to appreciate Purcell’s rich string textures which are such an attractive feature of these works.

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