Although we associate the person we have come to know as Santa Claus with the celebration of Christmas, Britten‘s St Nicolas was commissioned to celebrate the centenary of Lancing College, Sussex and was given its first official performance there in July 1948. However, there had been an unofficial première six weeks earlier as part of the opening concert for the first ever Aldeburgh Festival. Both were conducted by the composer, with the role of Nicolas sung by Britten’s partner, Peter Pears, a former pupil at the College.
More than two centuries earlier Joseph Haydn composed his St Nicholas Mass to celebrate the nameday, 6th December, of his employer, Prince Nicolaus Esterházy. The Mass follows the usual format of Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei and while it is comparatively short it shares all the trademarks of joy, vivacity and tunefulness as the masses he wrote in his old age.
2018 marks the centenary of the birth of composer, conductor, author, music lecturer and pianist Leonard Bernstein, whose most famous scores include West Side Story, On the Town, Candide and On the Waterfront.
Commissioned from Bernstein by the Dean of Chichester Cathedral for the 1965 Southern Cathedrals Festival, the Chichester Psalms received its UK premiere on 31st July 1965 and has gone on to become a highly popular staple of choral societies to this day. Consisting of three short movements, the Chichester Psalms is sung in Hebrew.
Our programme of 20th- and 21st-century compositions is completed with choral works by Janáček, Morten Lauridsen and Vaughan Williams.
"The horse and his rider hath He thrown in to the sea." These are the final words of Israel in Egypt, which sets to music passages from the Old Testament Book of Exodus and Psalms. The libretto is believed to have been prepared by Charles Jennens, who was also to compile the biblical texts for Messiah a few years later.
Frogs, pestilence, flies, lice, locusts, hailstones, fire, darkness and the parting of the Red Sea all feature in this extraordinarily dramatic oratorio, composed by Handel in one month.
HCS musical director Ron Corp shares his thoughts on Handel’s work in this video.
Highgate Choral Society’s annual family carols concert has become an unmissable event, with plenty of variety and audience participation, plus your first taste of mince pies and mulled wine of the season! Early booking is advised as this is always a sell-out.
Free pre-concert talk by Ronald Corp at 6.20pm.
Works written for two very different occasions form the opening concert in Highgate Choral Society’s 2017-2018 season. Following the recovery from illness of his fiancée, Constanze Weber, Mozart promised to write a mass of thanksgiving. Although it was never completed the Mass in C minor was premièred, in its incomplete state, with Constanze as one of the soprano soloists, in Salzburg on 26th October 1783 and harks back to the Baroque world of Handel and Bach.
Originally commissioned by the Polish-born art collector Bronislaw Krystall to write a requiem commemorating his wife’s death, Karol Szymanowski decided to change the contract and instead composed what is considered to be his greatest masterpiece. The inspiration for his Stabat Mater was the tragic death of his niece, Alinka and the subsequent suffering of his pregnant sister, who was soon to lose another child. Completed in 1926, Stabat Mater is of fundamental importance in the history of Polish music after Chopin.
Carl Orff popular favourite, Carmina Burana plus other works to be confirmed.