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Newbury Chamber Choir

Saturday 7 June 2008 at 7.30 pm St Nicolas’ Church, Newbury


Petite Messe Solennelle Edward Lambert Te Deum Joanna Soane (soprano) Jeanette Ager (mezzo-soprano) Ben Alden (tenor) Marcus Farnsworth (bass) Newbury Chamber Choir David Owen Norris (piano) Stephen Holmes (chamber organ) Susan Holmes (piano 2)

Edward Lambert (conductor)

Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868)

Petite Messe Solennelle This work is one of the world’s great musical oddities, and to understand it we need to look at the circumstances which led to its composition. Rossini’s staggeringly successful and productive early career in writing operas was followed by his retirement from theatrical life and almost complete compositional silence. For nearly twenty years he was dogged by ill-health and exhaustion, while around him changes in the political and artistic climates seemed to go against him. It was in the hope that French doctors would finally be able to help him that he travelled to Paris in 1855. There he was, indeed, revivified. His health improved, he was granted a comfortable pension to add to his financial independence, he bought a villa in the suburbs and an apartment in the city where he presided over one of the most fashionable salons. Paris at this time was being transformed by Hausmann’s boulevards into Europe’s first modern city, and its cosmopolitan outlook was reflected in its diverse cultural life. Rossini was no longer at the centre of operatic life, but there was inspiration in him yet, and in Paris he found a niche in which his new-found musical individuality could flourish. He composed a series of pieces which he called the ‘Sins of Old Age’, performed at his ‘Samedi soirs’, full of grace and charm, wit and sophistication. He refused to allow their publication and they are still relatively little known, although at the time they had a profound influence on a younger generation of French composers foreshadowing in their economy of style the movement towards neo-classicism. Rossini had been interested in composing a Mass setting for some while, but his insistence on writing for women’s voices “without which it is impossible to sing the glories of the Lord” meant that performance in church was impossible: only boys’ voices were allowed

A map of the first arrondissement 1860. Note the pencil lines showing the placement of Haussman’s boulevards. Rossini’s city quarters were in the rue de la Chaussée-d’Antin, in the IXe arrondissement just to the north, while he had a villa built in the exclusive suburb of Passy where he died on 13th November 1868. However, his widow Olympe was persuaded to allow his remains to be transported back to Italy after her death, and so Rossini was finally laid to rest in Florence in May 1887.

at that time. His ‘last mortal Sin’ was the Petite Messe Solennelle composed in 1863 during his regular summer sojourn in his villa at Passy. Conceived for a total of twelve voices (four soloists, who also sing with the chorus, and eight additional choristers), the Mass was scored for two pianos and ‘harmonichorde’, a sustaining piano usually interpreted as a harmonium, (in later correspondence he referred to it as an ‘organetto’). The composer himself rehearsed it. The score was dedicated to Rossini’s bankers and close personal friends, the Count and Countess Alexis and Louise Pillet-Will, and the work was first performed before an invited audience at 10:00 pm on Monday, 14 March 1864 on the occasion of the consecration of a private chapel in their splendid new home at 12, rue de Moncey. The performance was repeated the following day to a larger audience and all who heard it were overwhelmed. The Petite Messe solennelle was performed once again at the home of the Pillet-Wills the following year. Again, a dress rehearsal was held on a Sunday afternoon, in Rossini’s presence, with the formal performance following the next evening, Monday, 24 April 1865. As in 1864, Rossini chose not to attend. On 26 April La France reported: “Rossini, who all eyes sought, once again withheld himself from the ovations that awaited him. Little concerned with new triumphs, he remained quietly at home; but Mme Rossini attended the soirée given by Count Pillet-Will.” He later orchestrated the work, for fear that someone else would do it if he did not; this orchestral version did not see the light of day until after Rossini’s death and it quickly became popular all over the world. But the original version for keyboards is now universally admired as a work of chamber music that is both grand and intimate. Indeed, the pianistic writing of the Petite Messe Sollennelle is quite unlike anything else that springs to mind and ironically could only have come from a composer who had become famous for his original orchestral style. Although Rossini referred to himself as a ‘pianist of the fourth class’ it is the nature of the piano writing that gives the work an excitement that he was so good at producing in his operatic accompaniments and sustains the interest through what is actually a very long setting of the mass.

Rossini subscribed to the first complete edition of Bach’s works, and there is much in the Messe that seems to be influenced by historical traditions. The ‘Cum Sancto Spiritu’ at the end of the Gloria and ‘Et vitam venturi’ at the end of the Creed – traditional crowning moments of mass settings – are not only fugues, but double fugues. Almost at the ‘end’ of the historical scale, there is also the unaccompanied ‘Christe eleison’, an evocation of the ethereal vocal style of Palestrina. Yet these are combined with such pieces as the tenor aria ‘Domine Deus’ where we are seduced by the melody of a joyful operatic aria, while the final Agnus Dei, with its slow building of tension, could almost come out of one of Verdi’s great ensembles. ‘Let us not forget, Italians, that Musical Art is all ideal and expressive …’ he wrote, ‘that Delight must be the basis and aim of this Art: Simple Melody – clear Rhythm’. Rossini seems to be saying to the young composers of the day: they needn’t slavishly follow the innovations of Wagner or Liszt but could express themselves simply and directly. Even in his famous operas, economy of means was something he had always espoused – triumphantly. At the end of the autograph score he added: ‘Dear God. Here it is, finished, this poor little Mass. Have I written sacred music [musique sacrée] or damned music [sacrée musique]? I was born for opera buffa, you know it well! Little science, some heart, that’s all. Be blessed, then, and grant me a place in Paradise’. EL

“Gracious Lord, forgive me the following comparison. Your twelve are also the apostles in Leonardo da Vinci’s famous fresco that is called The Last Supper. Who would have thought it possible! There are some among your disciples who sing wrong notes!! Be assured, my Lord, I swear that there be no Judas at my supper, and that my [disciples] will sing your praises in tune and with love.” Rossini’s remark in the preface of his manuscript referring to the twelve singers specified for performance of the Mass.

1. Kyrie Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. 2. Gloria Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace, good will towards men.We praise thee, we bless thee, we worship thee, we glorify thee, we give thanks to thee for thy great glory,

O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty. O Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ; O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father - that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. Thou that takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us. For thou only art holy; thou only art the Lord; thou only, O Christ,

with the Holy Ghost, most high in the glory of God the Father. Amen. (brief pause)

3. Credo I believe in one God, the Father almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, Only begotten Son of God, Begotten of his Father before all worlds. God of God, light of light, Very God of very God. Begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father: by whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary: And was made man. And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate: suffered, and was buried.

And He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead: His kingdom shall have no end. And (I believe in) the Holy Ghost, Lord and giver of life: Who proceedeth from the Father and Son. Who with the Father and Son together is worshipped and glorified: Who spake by the Prophets. And in one holy catholic and apostolic church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. And I look for the resurrection of the dead And the life of the world to come. Amen. 4. Preludio religioso 5. Sanctus Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Hosts. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest. 6. O Salutaris hostia O saving Victim, open wide The gate of Heaven to man below; Our foes press on from every side; Thine aid supply; Thy strength bestow. All praise and thanks to thee extend, For ever more, bless’d one in three. O grant us life that shall not end, In our true native land with thee. Amen.

7. Agnus Dei Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, give us peace. Interval

La Seine, Paris, ca. 1860 photograph by Edouard Baldus

Edward Lambert (born 1951)

Te Deum (première)

I composed this piece in the year 2000; I had watched a choral competition on TV and had been struck by the impression that the accompaniments were often no match for the demands of the choral writing: they seemed to have little life of their own compared to the fantastic abilities of the choirs themselves. I reasoned one might explore more fully the potential of combining choir and piano (as a shining example the Petite Messe Solennelle could have sprung to mind, but didn’t) and set out to do something about it. The result is this concerto which may or may not succeed by virtue of the sheer danger that ensues when voices and piano share centre-stage. The piece opens with a shout of praise while the piano establishes the percussive nature of its accompaniment; this leads to the Te gloriosus in which choir and piano combine in imitation of a conglomeration of pealing bells. A more lyrical central section, Tu ad liberandum, features a stream of major thirds to create an out-of-focus sweetness; this time, the bells toll more ominously. There’s a brief moment of repose, Salvum fac, before the music resumes a cumulative course with the piano’s cross-rhythms driving towards the ending, non confundar in aeternum. It’s probably worth noting that, since many settings of the Te Deum are quite long, this one is compressed, there being almost no repetition of the text. I’d like to think that in this way the words and the structure of this beautiful early Christian hymn of praise will stand clear of the musical skirmish raging below them. EL

We praise thee, O God we acknowledge thee to be the Lord All the earth doth worship thee the Father everlasting. To thee all the angels cry aloud the heavens and all the powers therein. To thee cherubim and seraphim do continually cry Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth; heaven and earth are full of the majesty of thy glory. The glorious company of apostles praise thee. The goodly fellowship of the prophets praise thee. The noble army of martyrs praise thee. The Holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge thee; the father of an infinite majesty; thine honourable true and only Son; also the Holy Ghost the comforter. Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ. Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father. When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man, thou didst not abhor the Virgin’s womb. When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Thou sittest at the hand of God in glory of the Father. We believe that Thou shalt come to be our Judge. We therefore pray thee, help thy servants, whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood. Make them numbered with thy saints in glory everlasting O Lord save thy people and bless thine heritage.

Govern them and lift them up for ever. Day by day we magnify thee; and worship thy name, ever world without end. Vouchsafe, O Lord to keep us this day without sin. O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us. O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us, as our trust is in thee. O Lord in thee have I trusted let me not be confounded.

David Owen Norris has played this season in Oslo, Amsterdam, Wroclaw and Washington DC. Concerts in Britain have included Winterreise with Thomas Guthrie in Edinburgh and Oxford, Mozart’s C major Concerto in Poole, and Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto in the Sheldonian Theatre at Oxford. His January recording of Piano Concertos by Montague Phillips and Victor Hely-Hutchinson was released in March. Song cycles by Trevor Hold (with David Wilson-Johnson and Amanda Pitt) follow in May. Norris’s recordings of Karg-Elert’s fiendish piano transcription of Elgar’s Falstaff and his own transcriptions of the Pomp & Circumstance Marches will appear later this year. At the end of April Norris conducted the second performance of his oratorio Prayerbook, which first appeared in the English Music Festival in 2006. His Piano Concerto is to be premiered in the second English Music Festival in May. His second radio-opera, Pugwash walks the plank, will be premiered in the autumn. In February Norris presided over a Vaughan Williams tribute with a difference: a complete performance of the English Hymnal at Southampton, where he also launched a wide-ranging project on Mendelssohn’s pianos. Other work on early pianos has included concerts with Monica Huggett and the Audio Guide to the remarkable Cobbe Collection at Hatchlands. For BBC Radio 3’s Chopin weekend he filmed lessons on the A major Prelude and the B flat Mazurka which are posted on the BBC website – a new innovation for the BBC. In the summer of 2007 Norris was appointed Professor of Musical Performance at the University of Southampton, and Visiting Professor of Fortepiano at the Royal College of Music. He is an Honorary Fellow of Keble College, Oxford, Educational Fellow of the Worshipful Company of Musicians, and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music (by election) and the Royal College of Organists (by examination). Professor Norris gives papers this season at conferences at the Oslo Musikkhogskole, the Royal College of Music, Gresham College, the University of Southampton, the British Library, in Buxton for the ISM, and in the Three Choirs Festival, and is a guest lecturer in the Universities of Oxford, Bristol, Sussex and West Michigan. Norris increasingly works with children with special educational needs, and in July will give a series of Elgar workshops in Broadmoor: Elgar himself was a therapeutic musician at the Worcester Lunatic Asylum. David Owen Norris was Organ Scholar of Keble College, and left Oxford with a First and a Composition Scholarship to study in London and Paris. He was Repetiteur at the Royal Opera House, Harpist at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Artistic Director of Festivals in Cardiff and Petworth, Chairman of the Steans Institute for Singers in Chicago, the Gresham Professor of Music in the City of London and the First Gilmore Artist.

The Newbury Chamber Choir has a long and illustrious history in the West Berkshire/North Hampshire area. Until recently known as the Newbury Baroque Singers, (at one time it was the Phoenix Singers), the choir sings music of many different kinds while focusing on its core repertory of Baroque and Classical masterpieces. It performs with the appropriate instrumental ensemble or orchestral accompaniment drawn from the many superb performers who live in the area - as this concert shows. Diana Whitehead conducted the choir for many years and since 2002 its musical director has been Edward Lambert. In recent years the choir has performed Mozart’s Requiem, Rossini’s Petite Messe, Liszt’s Missa Choralis, Handel’s Messiah, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Schütz’s Christmas Story, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and works by de Mondonville, Charpentier, Lalande, Durante, Buxtehude, Haydn, Holst and Monteverdi - not to mention ‘The Wreck of the Hesperus’ by Thomas Anderton, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and two works commissioned from local composers. In November 2006 the choir gave a rare semi-staged performance of Cavalieri’s The Drama of Body and Soul - the world’s first opera, and in May 2007 Beethoven was the featured composer in a performance of the Mass in C with Hannah Medlam the soloist in the Violin Concerto. Besides giving concerts in Newbury and Andover, the choir has recently visited Hungerford, Lambourn, Chieveley, Burghclere, Chute and Abbotts Ann. The choir was awarded a grant for the purchase of a small chamber organ which is ideal for continuo work, and which is available for hire.

Next concert: Saturday 8 November 2008 St John’s Church, Newbury Mozart Violin Concerto with James Toll (violin) Haydn Nelson Mass

Joanna Soane studied at Trinity College of Music and the Royal College of Music, she is currently coached by Phillip Doghan. Joanna started her career as a mezzosoprano and in this capacity performed Cherubino, The Marriage of Figaro; Hansel, Hansel and Gretel; Jenny Diver, The Beggars Opera with members of the Consort of Early Music and the title role in Iolanthe for the Buxton Gilbert & Sullivan Festival. Since re-training as a soprano Joanna has played the role of Lidoshka in Shostakovich’s opera Cheryomushki, Angelina Trial By Jury and recently, Mabel The Pirates of Penzance for Grim’s Dyke Opera. She was a principal for the Savoy Theatre Opera Company and played the role of 2nd Bridesmaid and Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro. Joanna has also appeared as a chorister in Carmen at London’s Royal Albert Hall for Raymond Gubbay’s Opera Company. This year she sang for a series of opera concerts for the Verona Arena Foundation in Italy. In oratorio, Joanna has sung most of the main repertoire; recent concerts include Mozart’s Exultate Jubilate with the Erato Orchestra, Mozart’s Requiem, and Mass in C Minor, Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s The Creation, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Vivaldi’s Gloria and Rossini’s Messe Solennelle. Most recently she has sung concert performances of Fiordiligi in Cosi fan Tutti and Violetta in La Traviata. Last October, Joanna sang Marguerite in Gounod’s Faust for Kennet Opera in Newbury last year. Jeanette Ager was awarded an Exhibition to study at the Royal Academy of Music where she won numerous prizes. She is now continuing her studies with Linda Esther Gray. Jeanette has won the Gold Medal in the Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition, the Richard Tauber Prize for Singing and an award from the Tillett Trust Young Artist Platform. As a soloist, Jeanette’s concert and oratorio work has included: recitals and other appearances at the Wigmore Hall; Handel’s Messiah at St David’s Hall, Cardiff; Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius at the Queen Elizabeth Hall; Tippett’s Child of our Time at Salisbury Cathedral; Beethoven’s 9th Symphony at the Barbican Concert Hall and the Missa Solemnis at York Minster, Truro and Exeter Cathedral. In addition to performances at many of the leading venues in the United Kingdom, Jeanette’s concert work has taken her to Bermuda, the Czech Republic, Spain and China Her operatic roles have included Cherubino in the Marriage of Figaro, (Mozart); Dido in Dido & Aeneas, (Purcell); The Marquise of Birkenfield in La Fille du Regiment (Donizetti); Rosina in The Barber of Seville (Rossini) both for Swansea City Opera and Thea in The Knot Garden (Tippett). With the Royal Opera House she appeared as one of the Apprentices in Wagner’s Meistersinger at Covent Garden. This summer Jeanette will play the role of Suzuki in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. As a soloist, Jeanette has recorded for Hyperion, Deutsche Grammophon and Philips. Jeanette is part of the Artists in Residence Scheme at Queens University in Belfast where she regularly visits to perform recitals and to work with the students.

Ben Alden studied as an ABRSM scholar at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, completing an MMus degree in concert singing, studying under Peter Alexander Wilson. He currently combines his freelance career with a Lay Clerkship at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. As a committed ensemble singer, he works regularly with the Monteverdi Choir under Sir John Eliot Gardiner, the BBC Singers, Tenebrae, Polyphony, The Sixteen and Dunedin Consort. In addition he is a member of male-voice consorts Quintessential Voices and Liedertafel. He appears frequently on CD and in television and radio broadcasts, including the BBC Proms. Engagements have taken him abroad throughout Europe, the Isle of Man and the U.S.A. and he has appeared on stage in the Salle Pleyel, Paris and The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Ben continues to promote himself as a soloist under the guidance of tenor Ryland Davies. His recent solo performances include Swayne’s Stabat Mater, Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s St John Passion and Mass in B minor, with forthcoming engagements of Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers.

Marcus Farnsworth began his musical training as a chorister at Southwell Minster, Nottinghamshire. He continued his education at Chetham’s School of Music, and read music at the University of Manchester. He is now studying at the Royal Academy of Music with Glenville Hargreaves, and is the recipient of the Toba Mann award. He was recently awarded the Major van Someren-Godferey prize for English song. Marcus appears regularly as a soloist throughout the country, in opera and oratorio as well as solo recitals. He has a great commitment to the performance of new music, and has premiered vocal works by a wide range of composers. He has appeared in recital at Southwell Minster, Manchester Cathedral, Salford University, Lotherton Hall, the Royal Northern College of Music, the Royal Academy of Music and the Exon Singers Festival. Concert repertoire includes Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Magnificat, Mass in B Minor and St John Passion, Handel’s Messiah and Saul, Requiems by Brahms, Mozart, Fauré and Duruflé, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, Finzi’s In Terra Pax, and Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs. He has appeared with the Northern Chamber Orchestra, the English Symphony Orchestra, Manchester Camerata, the Britten Sinfonia, and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. On the opera stage Marcus has performed the roles of Adonis in Venus and Adonis by John Blow (Newark Festival Opera), Guglielmo in Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte (Heritage Opera), the Narrator in Britten’s Paul Bunyan (Manchester University), and the title role in a semi-staged performance of Handel’s Oratorio Saul (Ad Solem). He took part in Graham Vick’s new production of Britten’s Church Parable Curlew River with Birmingham Opera Company as part of the 2004 BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall.


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Edward Lambert has conducted many choral and orchestral works, accompanied many singers and instrumentalists, and composed music for a wide variety of performers. He studied at Oxford and the Royal College of Music and went on to work for several opera companies here and abroad; for many years he was on the staff of the Royal Opera House, where he worked with many of the greatest singers and conductors of recent tiimes. As a chorus master and coach, among the companies he has worked with are Dublin Grand Opera, Wexford Festival Opera, Ambrosian Singers, Ballet Rambert, Netherlands Opera, Maggio Musicale in Florence, Philharmonia Chorus, London Symphony Chorus, and the Aix-en-Provence Festival. As a composer his works have been heard at many venues in this country: the Chamber Concerto was performed at the Bath Festival and his Mass at the Huddersfield Festival and on Radio 3. The chamber opera Caedmon, to a libretto by Christopher Fry, was performed by the Royal Opera at the Donmar Warehouse who also commissioned an opera specially for comprehensive schools, The Button Moulder, which subsequently toured to the USA. His opera All In The Mind for a large cast of teenagers was performed by W11 Opera at the Britten Theatre in the Royal College of Music in 2005. Recently, his Concerto Cubico, du barocque and Trio Sonata have been performed in Newbury by the young artists living in the area whom they were written for. A duo for violin and harp will be premiered in the Buckingham Festival in July.

Newbury Chamber Choir (musical director: Edward Lambert)

Sarah Bedford, Rachel Bowey, Deborah Cox, Diana Goodwin, Caroline Griffin, Caroline Holbrook, Wendy Holmes, Rachel Lambert, Jill Pearson, Johan Teece, Vivienne Toll, Beryl White Jackie Appleford, Margaret Baker, Judy Creek, Sarah Ede, Diana Gough, Clare Heald, Nerolie de Lavis-Trafford, Kate Munro, Barbara Riggs Richard Foster, Chris Gwynn, Michael Hickey, John Long Andrew Davis, Christopher Fallows, Grahame Foulkes, Richard Goodwin, Ivan Johnson, Adam King

Assistance with musical preparation: Steve Bowey The choir is very grateful to the Principals of Thorngrove School for the provision of rehearsal facilities

New choir members welcome: no formalities rehearsals Tuesday evenings at 7.30 at Thorngrove School, Highclere Telephone the Secretary 01635 580833

Programme 2008 06  
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