Looking ahead

Well, if you missed our June 25th Taverner/Byrd/Stravinsky/Duruflé programme you missed a treat, even if we do say so ourselves. It was a programme of strong contrasts – ebullient counterpoint on the one hand and reflective chords on the other. Delivering these effectively was no mean feat, and someone was even kind enough to say that the conducting was ‘brilliant’! (Actually, when a choir is singing that well the trick is to keep out of their way by barely conducting at all.)

Because I was getting my head into gear for the afternoon and evening I left Radio 3’s June 25th Building a Library feature until now. It focussed on Victoria’s masses – four (out of 20) of which we have performed ourselves. These include the Missa O quam gloriosum which we sang on six successive days in Barcelona on our last tour – and looked forward to every time. I found myself broadly in agreement with the reviewer, though for my taste the various English cathedral choir performances were a bit slow and the Monteverdi Choir over-interpreted. But I’m happy to endorse her overall recommendation of Ensemble Plus Ultra’s 10 disc Victoria survey. It’s wonderful.

We have our Annual General Meeting next weekend, then we’re straight into (literally) rehearsals for our October visit to Venice. The repertoire will draw on our concert from last November including Croce’s scintillating Missa Percussit Saul which we hope to sing in the building for which it was written. We’ll also be singing Monteverdi, feet from his grave. And Byrd will feature too.
In September we’ll be starting on Handel’s magnificent Messiah, for our 70th birthday concert in November. But before then, the Proms will dominate London’s musical life so here’s a personal (some might say eccentric) selection you might enjoy.

Thu 21 July 7.30: the highlight of the season – the Strictly Prom!
Mon 25 July 1.00: an ensemble of 12 cellos (yes, really!) play Brahms, Villa-Lobos etc.
Sun 31 July 3.45: The Aurora Orchestra play Mozart from memory.
Sat 6 Aug 7.30: our Apprentice Conductor and about 150 of her friends play Strauss and Holst.
Mon 15 Aug 1.00: Late renaisssance gems from Fretwork and Stile Antico.
Tue 16 Aug 10.15: The Sixteen in Bach motets and Pärt.
Thu 1 Sept 7.30: JSB’s B minor Mass. I feel honour-bound to list this though William Christie is far from my first choice for Bach and they seem to be doing it with only four soloists when Bach asks for five. In the general context of contemporary professional Bach performance this may sound rather retro.
Sat 3 Sept 12.00 and 3.00: brilliant Steve Reich from a car park in Peckham.
Thur 8 Sept 7.30: Mainstream Beethoven and Strauss – but also some Max Reger!
Full details of the Proms can be found here.