Britten: Deus in adjutorium meum
Widor: 6 Duos for piano & organ
Britten: Rejoice in the Lamb
Vierne: Carillon de Westminster
Lili Boulanger: Vieille prière bouddhique
Vierne: Messe solennelle
The ticket price includes a free programme which you can access by clicking here.
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The beginning of the 20th century marked a period of close relations between Britain and France symbolised by the Entente Cordiale agreements signed in 1904. Tonight Lewisham Choral Society will celebrate their own Entente Musicale by bringing together French and English music from the start and the middle of that century.
The virtually blind organist Louis Vierne is today best known for the virtuoso works he wrote for the console of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. But tonight LCS will sing his Messe solennelle or Solemn Mass, an early work written under the influence of his teacher Charles-Marie Widor. It is a masterpiece of its kind, avoiding the pomposity, vulgarity and theatricality of its contemporaries. “The worthy retort to Fauré’s Requiem” according to one of his pupils.
Also representing our cross-Channel neighbours is a short, intense piece by Lili Boulanger, her Vieille prière bouddhique or Old Buddhist Prayer. Written at the start of the Great War, this remarkable young woman was the first female to win the prestigious Premier Grand Prix de Rome. However, she sadly died aged only 24, shortly before that conflict was to end.
Another World War was raging when the British contributions to LCS’s Entente Musicale concert were written. In 1943, a year after a homesick Benjamin Britten had returned from America, he received a commission for a piece to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the consecration of St Matthew’s Church, Northampton.
The result was Rejoice in the Lamb, a choral setting of a mysterious work by the 18th century poet Christopher Smart, written when Smart was imprisoned in an asylum, but only published in 1939. Cat lovers may particularly appreciate the lines about Smart’s cat Jeoffry, and for LCS Director of Music Dan Ludford-Thomas, the Britten setting will perhaps recall his own time as a chorister at the very same Northampton church.
Rejoice in the Lamb is now regarded as one of the most important pieces in the 20th century repertoire, while his Deus in adjutorium meum is undeservedly little known. This solemn but heartfelt motet was written in 1945 as the introduction to a play by fellow pacifist Ronald Duncan, who later that year went on to write the libretto for Britten’s opera The Rape of Lucretia.
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Our organist for the evening, James Orford, performed the Jongen Mass with LCS in November 2013, and we are looking forward to welcoming him onstage with us again.
James is currently the Organ Scholar at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea and is studying the organ on a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music. He has recently completed his year as the Organ Scholar at Truro Cathedral having previously held posts as Assistant Organist at St Mark’s Church, Bromley and Organ Scholar at Dulwich College.
He has performed, either as a soloist or accompanist, in a large number of cathedrals and concert halls across the UK and France, including Westminster, St Paul’s, Salisbury and Chartres Cathedrals, Lancing College Chapel, and the Royal Festival Hall.
During his time in Truro, he was involved in the recording of two CDs and a DVD and gave six recitals at the cathedral. He also recorded an album of Christmas music with the choir at the Royal Hospital in April last year.
A pianist as well as an organist, he has accompanied numerous singers and instrumentalists, and recently won the accompanist prize in the junior class of the AESS Song Competition.
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If you’re a Spotify user and unfamiliar with any of the pieces we are performing, here is a playlist of a professional recordings to listen to:
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Our concert tomorrow night will be preceded by the following statement:
We in Lewisham Choral Society are very pleased to welcome you all to this evening’s concert. Our choir benefits from a long tradition of singing music not only from the UK but from all over Europe and the rest of the world. We do this in the spirit of cultivating understanding amongst the diversity of our members and of our audience. And so tonight, with a programme of music from both sides of the Channel, we offer you our “Entente musicale”!
We hope to see you there!
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La Lewisham Choral Society est très heureux de vous accueillir tous ce soir. Notre chorale bénéficie d’une longue tradition de chanter la musique originaire non seulement du Royaume-Uni mais de toute l’Europe et du reste du monde. Nous faisons ceci dans l’esprit de cultiver l’entente parmi nos membres et notre public divers. Ce soir donc, avec un programme de musique issu des deux côtés de la Manche, nous vous offrons notre « Entente musicale » !
Nous espérons vous y voir!