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On a wet and windy May Day on the third of the month, two of our University ensembles took to the stage in St Gregory’s Centre for Music to brighten the mood; the wonderful Early Music Ensemble and the University Chapel Choir.
The Early Music Ensemble, directed by organist and Canterbury Cathedral girl’s choirmaster, David Newsholme, regularly perform music written before 1750, with a focus on music by English composers of the Baroque Period. The membership is open to anyone studying at Canterbury Christ Church University, following an audition process, though many of the current crop are studying with us in the School of Music and Performing Arts.
The ensemble performed five pieces to complete the first half of the lunch-time programme, which opened with two motets by Richard Dering, Gaudent in coelis and Duo seraphim , sung by the upper voices. Dering’s Latin Church music is strongly influenced by Italian practice of the period and the pieces are highly expressive and responsive to the text.
The string players in the ensemble then took on Matthew Locke’s Suite No.2 in G Major, The Broken Consort I. Locke was the pre-eminent composer at the early Restoration court and a great composer of chamber music. The Broken Consort pieces were a conscious revival of the contrapuntal pre-Civil War tradition. The set concluded with two penitential numbers. Gregory Treloar gave a moving rendition of Lord, I have sinned, by Pelham Humfrey, a typically affective devotional song. This piece was followed by the singers joining together to perform John Blow’s Salvator mundi, one of nine Latin motets by the composer in an Italianate style. To finish the programme, the Early Music Ensemble looked to its two brilliant clarinettists who played Bach’s Duo for Two Clarinets – a beautiful exercise in the classical style for the instrument, penned in its infancy by one of the great composers of the age.
The Chapel Choir, who provided the second half of a fantastic programme, comprises of a core of Scholars, including student and staff members of Canterbury Christ Church and is directed by student and Chapel Conducting Scholar, Gregory Treloar. It provides music for worship for the University Chaplaincy and each academic year it also sings two services in Canterbury Cathedral, one in St Augustine’s Abbey and contributes to the prestigious Carols by Candlelight service. Its repertoire, though entirely sacred, is extremely varied, ranging from Catholic polyphony of the Renaissance to Anglican music of the Twentieth Century.
The pieces performed by Chapel Choir in St Gregory’s included some of the choir’s earlier, a capella music. Tomás Luis de Victoria’s motet for All Saints Day, O quam gloriosum, depicts the glories of the heavenly host, with the company of the saints clothed in white in the presence of God. This was followed by several pieces with a Marian focus Alma Redemptoris Mater by Palestrina and Regina Coeli by Soriano are seasonal antiphons to Our Lady, often sung at the end of Mass. Regina Coeli is the antiphon from Easter to Pentecost, hence the copious alleluias. The ensemble sung the Magnificat, the song of Our Lady, in a setting by the spanish composer, Morales, and finished triumphantly with one of Henry Purcell’s later works, a joyous setting of verses from Psalm 11 entitled Thy Word is a Lantern, which featured beautiful solos by some of the Scholars interspersed with interjections from the rest of the choir.
Congratulations to both our ensembles for their wonderful performances!
Early Music Ensemble
Anna-Magdalena Cullen, Sam Der-Kevorkian, Charlotte Thorkildsen, Helena Jukes, Abbeygail Sutton, Ellie German, Emily Prest, Emma Lowrie, Angel Neal, Hannah Jacobi, Gregory Treloar.
University Chapel Choir
Ellie German, Emily Prest, Angel Dixon, Alicia Miles, Isla Holdsworth, Alice Atkins, Hannah Jacobi, Jessie Drabble, Matt Swainsbury, David van Krieken Vannerley, James Eustace, Michael Brooks, James Lewis.