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Music for Christmas | Tewkesbury Choral Society

Saturday December 1, 2018 at 19:30
Tewkesbury Abbey, Tewkesbury
£15, accompanied school children free
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  1. A Ceremony of Carols Op 28 - Benjamin Britten
  2. Gloria - John Rutter
  3. Stabat Mater Speciosa, a Christmas cantata, for choir, organ, timpani and brass - Chris Williams
  4. Divertimento, for brass sextet Op 49 - Leonard Salzedo
  5. Music for a Festival - Gordon Jacob

The tradition of writing music for Christmas has continued in the 20th and into the 21st centuries. This concert includes three choral works linked in different ways to Christmas carols.

John Rutter is perhaps the finest living writer of carols. Gloria is his setting of the hymn which opens with the words ascribed to the angel chorus at the Nativity, and which were addressed to shepherds "abiding in the field" on the hillside near Bethlehem: Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus.

Benjamin Britten composed his cantata, A Ceremony of Carols, during his return to England from America during the Second World War. It is based on a collection of medieval carols which he had chanced upon in Canada. Richard Osborne considers the work to be "Straightforwardly joyous: a celebration of Christ's birth, bright winter moods, and boyhood".

Chris Williams is less well known. His Stabat Mater Speciosa is a setting of a medieval Hymn to Mary, interspersed with some familiar Christmas carols. The work is touching and uplifting, and is an enjoyable example of modern music. It was written as recently as 2016.

The concert also includes exciting works for brass ensemble: Divertimento by Leonard Salzedo and Music for a Festival by Gordon Jacob. The festival referred to in the title was the Festival of Britain, which took place in 1951.

All five of the composers were born in England.

Tewkesbury Abbey
Church Street
GL20 5RZ
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