On Wednesday 11 March, we were treated to a sensational concert of Lenten choral music by our Chamber Choir.
The recital began with Jehovah, quad multi sunt hostes mei by Henry Purcell. This highly emotional piece captured every member of the audience, taking us on a journey through the modulations and unconventional melodic twists. William (Form 7 ) tenor and Zsolti (Form 5) baritone gave impressive performances as soloists within the piece.
Following this we heard Byrd’s much-loved Ave verum corpus. It is the composer’s most famous motet, and is an exquisite and expressive gem of a piece. The Chamber Choir gave a truly beautiful performance of a piece which is familiar to many people.
Such a well-loved piece was therefore an apt choice by the composer Roderick Williams as the inspiration for a new work, Ave verum corpus re-imagined. The composer writes that he had known Byrd’s setting “since my days as a treble chorister and I grew up in awe of its carefully measured harmony and effortless counterpoint. Like any choral singer, I have my favourite moments within the piece – the scrunching false relations, the question and answer exclamations, the mournful coda – and so I sought to write a piece that would focus specifically on these highlights and expand upon them. Its composition is an act of homage to a masterful composer.” It is a remarkable re-imagining of Byrd’s music for the 21st Century which the Chamber Choir executed fantastically.
Today’s recital concluded with Hear my prayer by Purcell. Another adored piece amongst choral music fans, the piece’s 34 bars slowly develop the choral texture polyphonically from the opening alto phrase, creating what the conductor Robert King has called “an inexorable vocal crescendo… culminating on a monumental discord on the last repetition of ‘come'”. We were left feeling quite peaceful and thankful for our 25 minutes of respite.