Our 40th Anniversary Year!
Programme for 2017-18
Saturday 2nd December 2017. 7.00pm
A real celebration of Christmas! This concert will feature three beautiful but contrasting pieces in the first half, followed by extracts on a Christmas theme from Handel's well loved Messiah.
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on Christmas Carols
Camille Saint-Saens: Christmas Oratorio
Morten Lauridsen: O Magnum Mysterium
George Frideric Handel: A Christmas selection from Messiah
The Minster Church of St Denys, Warminster
We celebrate our 40th Anniversary with this dramatic oratorio based on the biblical story of Elijah.
Saturday 2nd June 2018. 7.00pm.
Felix Mendelssohn: Elijah
The Minster Church of St Denys, Warminster
Christmas Celebration by candlelight.
A concert of enchanting Christmas music spanning over two and a half centuries will be presented by the Athenaeum Singers in The Minster on Saturday 2nd December. The enticing programme has been put together by the singers’ Director of Music, Edward-Rhys Harry, who will also conduct the concert.
The singers have been meticulously prepared in their weekly rehearsals by their talented and energetic Chorus Master, Rosie Howarth, who was recently joined by their Director for a full day workshop in preparation for the event.
The Minster will be adorned by candlelight for the concert and the festive atmosphere will be bolstered by wine and mince pies during the interval.
Simon Dinsdale, sub organist at The Royal Military College, Sandhurst, who travels extensively as a concert accompanist and cathedral organist, will accompany the singing on the Minster organ.
The earliest work to be presented, dating from 1741, is a Christmas selection from Messiah, by GF Handel, one of the most enduringly popular works with singers and audiences alike. Traverse over a century and a half to Saint-Saëns’ Christmas Oratorio, a lyrical piece in romantic style for solo voices and choir. The first half on the twentieth century is represented by Vaughan Williams’, Fantasia on Christmas Carols, where traditional folk carols are sung by baritone soloist with choral accompaniment. Four young professional singers will take the solo roles, appearing in a variety of combinations from solos to quartet.
American composer Morten Lauridsen, working in the later years of the twentieth century, wrote a piece of huge sensitivity and spiritual depth, O Magnum Mysterium, to convey the great mystery of the mighty God becoming a new born baby in a manger. His aim was to ‘illumine through sound’, attained through sustained choral lines which interweave and produce ethereal harmonies of haunting beauty. This most recent composition concludes the programme for the evening.
Athenaeum members join Corsley Festival Choir in Austria
A group of our singers accepted the invitation from Corsley to take part in this festival in Austria during mid-September. Here is a review.
Kufstein’s choirs go international
How a performance of Mozart’s Requiem became a memorable musical event
By Wolfgang Otter – from Erl
There may be much talk about Brexit but there are no frontiers when it comes to music and what one actually hears; and Mozart brings everyone together anyway. Thus it was that late on Sunday evening about 180 musicians from several countries stood on the stage of Erl’s Passion Play hall and surmounted their national borders. Hailing from the Tyrol (Kufstein’s choir and Erl’s chorus with woodwind players from in and around Erl), from Germany (Rosenheim’s Music Association), and from England (The Corsley Festival Choir), they mounted the stage with Drummond Walker – the Erl and District choir’s choirmaster, who is English – to perform Mozart’s Requiem. This international ensemble was completed by the quartet of soloists, namely Diana Amos, Susan Maclean, Markus Herzog and Daniel Lewis Williams.
Over recent months Walker had led his choir to new musical heights and inspired it to be more ambitious. Mozart’s Requiem, parts of which were completed by his pupils, is very well known, extremely tricky, and taxing for all the musicians. The demands of the work go far above the standard repertoire of any active choir. On top of which Walker had to bring several choirs together in the course of only a few joint rehearsals.
This then came off superbly on the day. The combined choirs, numbering no fewer than 160 voices, sang the Kyrie eleison fugues with astonishing homogeneity and emotion. In the Lacrimosa Walker succeeded in obtaining a superb performance from his musicians. One could tell from the start that a skilled musician was on the rostrum, setting the work on a solid base and deftly handling its not always easy transitions. Equally, the soloists demonstrated that they were right on top of their craft. Just occasionally there were minor problems of intonation from the orchestra, which otherwise played well. In short, it was a successful and moving Requiem and a choral experiment that should certainly be repeated. The enthusiastic audience numbered about 1,500.