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12th September 2015
This year's choir medallists

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13th April 2015
Former chorister returns for concert with her brilliant new choir! Sat 23rd May 2015

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31st October 2014
An English Autumn Concert : 21st November 2014

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3rd September 2014
A New Year and a New Music Department

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5th May 2014
David Arcus begins as Interim Director of Music!

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11th April 2014
New Music Staff

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31st March 2014
Clare Competition Winner

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17th February 2014
Mozart with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

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16th February 2014
Choral Evensong in Cambridge

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7th February 2014
Rage and Romance : Part 1 Done!

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2nd February 2014
Be a Chorister at Candlemas!

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1st February 2014
Our New Archdeacon Arrives

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31st January 2014
ASS needs you!!!

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25th January 2014
The Men in Southwell

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5th January 2014
A New Year’s Tour in Vienna

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26th December 2013
Christmas has just Begun!

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19th December 2013
Mandela Memorial Service

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5th December 2013
Our New Boy Bishop

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22nd November 2013
The Dove is Launched!

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22nd November 2013
Composition Competition

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More News...

 

The Dove is Launched!
22nd November 2013
 
 

A true sense of occasion was experienced at All Saints’ Church on Friday November 22, when we celebrated both the one hundredth birthday of Benjamin Britten and the world première of our 2013 commission at the annual Saint Cecilia’s Day concert – all in one evening of spectacular music making! The audience flocked to see and hear the Boys, Girls and Men of All Saints, joined by wonderful soloists Jessica Smith (soprano and former All Saints Head Chorister), James Laing (counter-tenor), our very own singing teacher Philip Slane (tenor), Bozidar Smiljanic (bass-

baritone), and, not forgetting, guest organist Richard McVeigh. We were delighted to perform in partnership with musical interludes from the talented members of TGI Dectet from Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust. The evening began with wine and raffle tickets to raise money for the forthcoming New Year tour to Vienna, to be undertaken by the girls and men.

The concert opened with an impressive performance of Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, written in 1943, a cantata for the four soloists, with the choir of boys and men, accompanied by our Travis Organ Fellow, Hilary Punnett. A particular favourite of the choir, they gave a moving rendition of Christopher Smart’s shocking text written whilst in an asylum, with Isaac and Thomas from the boys’ choir contributing a sweet consideration of the cat, Jeoffrey!
 

 

In the middle of each half of the programme the young wind musicians from NMPAT then took to the stage, performing works by Gordon Jacob, Mozart, Sullivan and Weber.

The programme then continued with another of Britten’s astonishing cantatas, Hymn to Saint Cecilia, performed annually at All Saints on the great saint’s Feast Day, and this year sung by the girls and men. This time setting a poem by W. H. Auden – published with a dedication ‘for Benjamin Britten’ – Britten again intersperses

choral sections with virtuosic solo passages as each voice in term describes a different musical instrument. We were honoured with spectacular performances from Jessica, James, Philip and Boz.

For the final work before the interval, the boys and the girls took to the stage, directed by Hilary, with Lee at the piano. In collaboration with a nationwide Britten100 event, they performed Britten’s witty selection of songs for children’s voices, Friday Afternoons. Whilst perhaps now somewhat late than the time suggested in the title, this Friday evening’s performance was no less spirited for that, and the children performed with evident enjoyment in the quirky and original settings of the frequently nonsensical words.
 

 

After the interval, the audience settled back down for the world premiere of our 2013 commission from Jonathan Dove, the 17 minute ‘dialogue for solo countertenor and choir with organ’: Out of the Whirlwind. The choirs assembled in silence on the steps, and then suddenly the organs roared into an explosion of sound, as Hilary Punnet (chancel organ) and Richard McVeigh (gallery Organ) depicted the devastating strength of the whirlwind. Through the winds was heard the desperate voice of Job (sung by counter-tenor James Laing), crying out

to the God he fears has abandoned him. Fresh from his debut at the Royal Opera House, James was mesmerising, performing his dramatic solos from the aisle, pacing in and out of the circling winds. We were honoured to have Jonathan Dove, the composer, present for the performance, and he particularly noted how ‘seeing Jamie in black against the choir's great wall of red was an incredibly dramatic beginning’, as Jamie sung out the pleading words of Job, answered by The Voice of God, represented by the choir and STB soloists.

Intentionally a homage to Britten’s great Festival anthems, the work was spectacular, shocking, sublime and mesmerising all in turn, as Job argued and battled with God, before finally moving to join the choir on the steps, as he accepted that God ‘canst do everything’, before moving into a final ‘Hallelujah’, echoed by the choir. The stunned audience sat in silence as its conclusion, as the beautiful final chorus died away in the dark church, before breaking into rapturous applause, as the soloists, organists, choristers and the composer himself took their bows. Dove later wrote,
 

Thank you so much for last night's electrifying premiere of Out of the whirlwind! The choir really gave it everything, and their powerful spirit sang out with radiance. The organists were thrilling, and also accompanied skilfully and sensitively.

It was an honour to work with a composer as creative and generous as Jonathan Dove, and a wonderful experience to perform such a work on a day dedicated to a celebration of all things musical, but particularly this year, on the centenary of Benjamin Britten’s birth, a composer who changed the future of choral music. An evening of spectacular music-making that those present will never forget.

 

 



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