The Brentwood Choirs Festival performed works by the classical composer Mozart and by the contemporary composer Howard Goodall on Saturday 21st November 2015 to a near 'full house' in Brentwood Cathedral. The concert was a great success and the audience responded enthusiastically. To remind you of this concert, or tell you about it for the first time, we provide an image of the poster we published, short pieces on the background to the works performed, and profiles of the conductor and the solo performers. You can use the following links to find all this information.
|Chairman's Welcome||Mozart||Howard Goodall||David Pickthall||Background to Works||Soloists and Orchestra|
It is a great pleasure to welcome you all to tonightís Brentwood Choirs Festival concert.
The Festival plays an important role in the area by bringing together a range of choral groups so that we can perform the masterpieces of the choral repertoire. Tonightís programme demonstrates the balance BCF has sought over the years with an established and familiar work from the choral repertoire sharing the evening with a work by a living composer.
I would like to thank the many people who have supported our sponsorship scheme which has made such a difference to the finances of the Brentwood Choirs Festival. Knowing that such generous support is available gives us the confidence to plan for the future and ensure top quality, large scale choral performances remain a part of the music-making scene in Brentwood for a long time to come.
Brentwood Choirs Festival began in 1991 and was the brainchild of David Taylor, then conductor of Brentwood Choral Society. Its inaugural concert was Elgarís Dream of Gerontius and we will return to that great work next November when BCF celebrates its 25th anniversary. It will be a great occasion so please put the date Ė Saturday 12 November 2016 in your diaries.
Our conductor tonight is David Pickthall, who retired last year after many years as Head of Music at Brentwood School. He was awarded the MBE earlier this year for his outstanding service to music at the school and in the community and we warmly congratulate him on such a richly merited honour.
We are delighted that our soloists and orchestra tonight showcase the wonderful new, young musical talent in Brentwood and beyond. They represent a bright and exciting future for music in this country.
Howard Goodall was asked to write a work by Mark Stephenson, the artistic director of the orchestra 'London Musici, to mark the 20th anniversary of the founding of that orchestra in 1988. 'London Musici' brought together some of London's most talented young payers. Mark Stephenson also suggested that the work should provide a dance piece for the famous Rambert Dance Company, to be choreographed by Mark Baldwin. (In 2009 the 'London Musici' became the Rambert Orchestra.)
There was an association of 'London Musici' with the choir of Christ Church Cathedral Oxford, as a result of their joint performance of a Passion Oratorio, every year, and because of this association with a cathedral choir it was decided that the piece should have a spiritual component and the title Requiem 'Eternal Light' was chosen. The combination of orchestra, choir and soloists with dance was probably a world first and the work's composition was a considerable technical challenge for Howard. Another challenge was reconciling his views about life and death with some of the doctrine presented in the Catholic Mass for the Dead. With the support of his collaborative partners, Mark Baldwin and designer Michael Howell, he resolved his difficulties and produced the stunning work which is so very popular with today's audiences.
The work called Mozart's 'Coronation Mass' was not commissioned for a coronation: It was written as a mass for the Easter Day service in Salzburg Cathedral. Mozart finished its composition on March 23, 1779, and it was first performed on 4th April 1779. Mozart was given seemingly impossible conditions for this work by the Archbishop of Salzburg, who ordered that the music for any mass should not be longer than 45 minutes, to allow more time for devotion and for the congregation to focus on the message of the church. But the work was also required to fill a huge cathedral with sound, using powerful loud instruments, and create an atmosphere of joy and grandeur appropriate to the Easter message and the importance of the Salzburg Cathedral.
Despite composing the work at a most difficult time in his life, Mozart achieved the near impossible: a work lasting only 30 minutes which was joyous and grand, and full of musical innovation. He had just returned from a disastrous tour of Europe, fruitlessly looking for work that he rightfully believed suited his great talent. The search for suitable work failed and worse still his mother, who accompanied him for moral support, and whom he loved dearly, died in Paris. On his return to Salzburg he needed work to survive and his father encouraged him to take a job at Salzburg Cathedral, working for an Archbishop whom he hated in a job mostly not suited for his great talent.
The work came to be called the Coronation Mass when it was believed it was used for the coronation of Leopold II, or for his successor Francis I, in August 1792, both in Prague. Some music historians doubt this belief, but it was given that name, starting in the early 19th century in the court of Vienna and it continues today. Surely it would make a fine coronation mass whatever its history?.
The flute and harp concerto was written by Mozart in Paris in April 1778, about a year before his Coronation Mass. This was during the time of his European tour, when he was looking for work befitting his great ability, having left his job in Salzburg which he thought was cramping his style. Despite the rapturous reception he had been given in Paris as a child prodigy, he found it difficult to get work as an adult, and he had to teach composition or take whatever commissions he could get. One of his students played the harp and she was the daughter of the Duc de Guines, an amateur flautist. The Duke commissioned Mozart two write two concertos, for flute and for harp, for himself and his daughter to play. Mozart was not very keen on either the flute or the harp as instruments, but he was sufficiently impressed by the performing abilities of the Duke and his daughter to accept the commission. He wrote a work for the two instruments to be played together. The flute and the harp were great favourites of the French. Mozartís concerto was a charming piece in three movements, rich in melody, with light orchestration well suited to the salon. The only problem was that Mozart was not paid the agreed amount for his work.