Thursday, April 3, 2008

Loud Your Anthems Raise!

Now here's a press release for an event that I would love to attend.

The Sir Arthur Sullivan Society and the English Music Festival present a morning of Sullivan's church music in Keble College, Oxford, on Saturday 24 May 2008 as part of the second English Music Festival.

The centrepiece will be a service of Matins using (almost) exclusively Sullivan's music. The Sullivan Singers, directed by David Owen Norris, will sing the Te Deum and Jubilate in D (1866) and Lead, kindly light (1871). Singers are invited to form a "come and sing" choir to sing two anthems under the direction of David Owen Norris: The strain upraise (1868) and Sing, O heavens (1869). In addition, Sullivan's psalm chant will be used and the following hymns will be sung: Alleluia! alleluia! (LUX EOI), Onward, Christian soldiers (ST. GERTRUDE), To Thee, O Lord, our hearts we raise (GOLDEN SHEAVES), Breathe on me, breath of God (IN MEMORIAM). The officiant and preacher will be the Revd. Dr. Ian Bradley.

Matins is at 1100 in Keble College chapel, then at 1215 in the Pusey Room of Keble College, Ian Bradley will give a talk entitled "Stage or Sanctuary? Assessing Sullivan's hymn tunes and sacred music" which will finish at or shortly after 1300.

Singers of all voices are welcome to join the "come and sing" choir. There is no charge and music will be provided. The only stipulation is that you must must attend a rehearsal, which begins in Keble chapel at 0930. If you want to sing, please if at all possible give advance notice so that we have an idea of numbers and can ensure that sufficient copies of the music are made.

Non-singers are of course just as welcome as singers - just come and listen if you prefer!

Stephen Turnbull
Secretary, Sir Arthur Sullivan Society

I did sing in the choir for a similar (though less ambitious) service in 1995 when attending the International Gilbert & Sulllivan Festival in Buxton, England. This year's anthems seem more interesting and appropriate overall; we did the Io paean section from The Martyr of Antioch which was distinctly odd, and God sent his messenger, the rain from The Golden Legend, which was beyond the capability of the group, though we also did In Rama was there a voice heard from The Light of the World which was surprisingly unique. But they were all oratorio choruses; this year's set are perhaps a better fit for a worship service.

Even the Rev'd Dr. Bradley concurs that Sullivan's hymn tunes are a decidedly mixed bag.

"It is certainly true that Sullivan's hymn tunes are extraordinarily variable in quality -- when they are bad, they are very, very bad."

from Bradley's Abide With Me: The World of Victorian Hymns

They will at least be singing Sullivan's two best tunes: ST. GERTRUDE and LUX EOI. GOLDEN SHEAVES seems just a tad 'busy' and I don't really know IN MEMORIAM, which doesn't seem to turn up in any online searches, though I found it last night in a British Methodist hymnal.

Well, I can't be there in person, but there will undoubtedly be 'reviews' posted on Savoynet, the talkative e-mailing list for Gilbert & Sullivan enthusiasts.

P.S. Pictures! yay!

No comments: