Archived Concerts 2014 – 2015

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2014 – 2015


IN MEMORIAM
Saturday 15th November 2014 7.30pm
Southwell Minster

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS
Dona Nobis Pacem

ELGAR
Spirit of England

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS
Lark Ascending

Shulah Oliver – violin
Stephanie Corley – soprano
James Oldfield – bass-baritone

ORCHESTRA DA CAMERA

Richard Laing – conductor

NOTTINGHAM HARMONIC CHOIR

This concert was part of the Trent to Trenches events taking place in Nottinghamshire in 2014 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. The concert featured works which were essentially a plea for peace, rather than any celebration of War. We hoped in this way to honour those who gave their lives, so we could live.

Vaughan Williams Dona Nobis Pacem is exactly that – a plea for peace, written in 1936, referring to recent wars during the growing fears of a new one. His texts were taken from the Mass, three poems by Walt Whitman, a political speech by John Bright in which he had tried to prevent the Crimean War, and sections of the Bible.

Vaughan Williams Lark Ascending perhaps epitomises the emotions of those who valued what was good about the freedom of the English countryside in the early years of the 20th Century, and felt that their duty was to preserve it for others, even if this required them to fight.

Elgar’s Spirit of England is a setting of a collection of war poems by Laurence Binyon published in late 1914. If you like other Elgarian choral works, like The Dream of Gerontius, you will like this too. One of Elgar’s friends, Sir Sidney Colvin, suggested that Elgar should compose a war requiem which captured the spirit of Binyon’s poems.

 

Elgar was deeply affected by the suffering caused by the First World War and readily accepted Colvin’s idea, selecting three of Binyon’s poems – The Fourth of August, To Women and For the Fallen – to set to music. Elgar had not progressed very far, however, when he met Cyril Rootham, director of music at St John’s College, Cambridge. To Elgar’s consternation, Rootham revealed that he too was compoing a setting of For the Fallen.

Elgar faced a dilemma: For the Fallen was to be the climax of Elgar’s work and he could not contemplate recasting it to exclude the poem. Yet by continuing, he would invite inevitable comparisons between the two settings, accusations of capitalizing on another composer’s ideas, and Rootham’s displeasure. Elgar prevaricated until prevailed upon by Colvin and others to proceed with his original plan.

MESSIAH
Saturday 6th December 2014 7:00pm
Royal Concert Hall

HANDEL
Messiah

Laurie Ashworth – soprano
Benjamin Williamson – counter tenor
Tyler Clarke – tenor
Adrian Powter – baritone

ORCHESTRA DA CAMERA

Richard Laing – conductor

NOTTINGHAM HARMONIC CHOIR

Start your Christmas season with an evening of inspirational music.

Handel’s magnificent oratorio Messiah tells the story of Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection, through many narrative and explanatory extracts from the Bible. This dramatic work features several of the greatest arias and choruses ever written.

This concert comes at the start of Advent, when we are all finally becoming aware that it really isn’t long until Christmas, even though the shops have been anticipating it for months. Come and have an evening to escape from the bustle and let Handel’s glorious music wash over you and renew you.

FAMILY CAROL CONCERTS
Saturday 20th December 2014 7:00pm
Monday 22nd December 2014 7:00pm
Royal Concert Hall

NOTTINGHAM HARMONIC CHOIR

John Morehen – organ

Richard Laing – conductor

THORESBY COLLIERY BAND

Bring the whole family to enjoy Christmas music at these ever-popular, child-friendly concerts.

The choir and band lead the audience in well-loved Christmas carols, while the choir provides
more peaceful interludes with celestial carol settings and the Thoresby Colliery Band adds sparkle in its solo items.

The Thoresby Colliery Band is one of the most exciting brass bands in Europe, and regularly wins accolades for its inspirational playing. Even if you think you don’t like brass bands, this one will convert you.

Over the years they have played pieces ranging from Frosty the Snowman to Rossini’s William Tell Overture, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and Wagner’s Procession to the Minster.

If you get seats close enough to watch their percussion section, it is an amazing sight and sound.

Come & Sing 2015 – PARRY & VAUGHAN WILLIAMS
Saturday 28th February 2015 9:30am – 5:30pm
Nottingham Girls’ High School

RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS
In Windsor Forest
Toward the Unknown Region

HUBERT PARRY
Blest Pair of Sirens

Philip Robinson – piano

Richard Laing – conductor

9:30-10:00 Registration
10:00-12:30 Welcome & rehearsal
12:30-13:30 Lunch (all brought their own)
13:30-16:00 Rehearsal
16:30-17:30 Performance

About 120 singers, some from Nottingham Harmonic Choir but also many friends and lovers of singing from a wide geographic area gathered to rehearse and ultimately, to perform these works from two of the well-loved English choral composers.

Parry’s Blest Pair of Sirens written for eight-part chorus and full of soaring harmonies, was designed to sound thrilling in an English Cathedral. However it sounds equally wonderful in almost any large echoing space and is simply great fun to sing.

 

Vaughan Williams is sometimes a little more tricky harmonically, but once it has become familiar the way the parts weave and blossom towards the various climaxes can make ones spine tingle.

 

In Windsor Forest is a cantata for mixed voices adapted from Vaughan Williams’ opera Sir John in Love. The words are selected poems and traditional songs by a variety of authors including by Shakespeare and Ben Johnson.

 

Toward the Unknown Region is a setting of a poem by Walt Whitman who seemed to inspire Vaughan Willimas to produce his most expressive and moving music. Like the Sea Symphony which also sets words by Walt Whitman, the imagery and feel of the sea never seems far away.

MOZART, MENDELSSOHN, HAYDN & BEETHOVEN
Saturday 21st March 2015 7:30pm
Albert Hall, Nottingham

MOZART
Mass in C Minor

MENDELSSOHN
Psalm 95: Kommt Laßt uns anbeten

HAYDN
Representation of Chaos

BEETHOVEN
Overture: Leonore No.3

Katie Trethewey – soprano
April Fredrick – soprano
Matthew Minter – tenor
Angus McPhee – baritone

BACH CAMERATA ORCHESTRA

Richard Laing – conductor

NOTTINGHAM HARMONIC CHOIR

Review: Nottingham Post Sunday 22 March 2015 by William Ruff
The Nottingham Harmonic Choir may have invented a new art form. Conductor Richard Laing announced their cunning plan at the start of Saturday’s concert. All three works in the programme’s first half would be played without a pause – as if they were one single piece of music. Considering that three different composers were involved, this was quite a bold move.

So was it worth doing? Well, it certainly generated much discussion in the interval. Haydn’s Representation of Chaos (from The Creation) gave way to Mendelssohn’s setting of Psalm 95 which in turn led to Beethoven’s Leonore No 3 Overture. So not a chronological progression but rather a philosophical one – from the dark materials of creation through religious worship to the final stage of human beings fulfilling their own destiny.

Richard Laing and the Orchestra da Camera created beautifully transparent textures in both the Haydn and the Beethoven They were meticulous in their attention to detail and vividly projected the music’s dramatic imagery, Beethoven’s stirring trumpet call seeming to arise from Haydn’s Chaos.

The Harmonic Choir was on top form throughout the evening, producing a satisfyingly coherent and well-balanced sound, strong in all sections. The tonal brightness of much of their singing in the Mendelssohn Psalm setting was accompanied by a gleam in their eyes and much vocal energy. Words were consistently clear and there was a confidence about their projection that was often inspiring.

Mozart’s C minor Mass was also given a highly dramatic performance, the choir always responsive to the meaning of the text: brightly assertive, weightily reflective, thrillingly exultant, whatever the words suggested.

The four soloists (Katie Trethewey, April Fredrick, Matthew Minter and Angus McPhee) were of like mind and equally concerned about dramatic impact and telling detail. Together with orchestra, choir and conductor they created an innovative and uplifting programme.

MUSIC for CHOIR, ORGAN and CELLO
Saturday 9th May 2015 7:30pm
Southwell Minster

VIERNE
Messe Solennelle

TAVENER
Svyati

GJEILO
O magnum mysterium

ALEX PATTERSON
Lux in Tenebris

works by Saint-Saens, Franck, Fauré, Arvo Pärt, Bach

Christopher Graves – cello
Simon Hogan – organ
Richard Laing – conductor

NOTTINGHAM HARMONIC CHOIR

Vierne’s lovely Messe Solennelle formed the backbone of the first part of this concert, with its movements interspersed with other hauntingly beautiful works for cello, piano and organ: Saint-Saens’ Prière, Franck’s Panis Angelicus, and Fauré’s AndanteIn the second half of the concert again the programme alternated choral and instrumental items. Tavener’s Svyati was especially well suited to the floating, resonant acoustics of Southwell.

Bach’s Erbarme Dich (Have mercy Lord), was performed in a gorgeous arrangement for violin and cello – familiar music to many, from the St Matthew Passion.

Less familiar works, which become future favourites of the choir during rehearsals:
Gjeilo’s O magnum mysterium, local composer Alex Patterson’s Lux in Tenebris, and Arvo Pärt’s Fratres.

DRIVE TIME CONCERT – Thursday 25th June 2015
Thursday 25th June 2015 5:00pm
Royal Concert Hall

John Williams: Star Wars – Opening Titles
Beethoven: Symphony No 5 – First movement
Sibelius: Pelléas and Mélisande – At the Castle Gate
(Theme from The Sky at Night)

Johann Strauss: On the Beautiful Blue Danube
(from 2001: A Space Odyssey)

Handel: Zadok the Priest
Debussy: Clair de Lune
Holst: Mars, The Bringer of War from The Planets
Richard Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra
(opening titles of 2001: A Space Odyssey)

John Williams: Star Wars – Duel of the Fates
Sibelius: Symphony No 5 – Finale

HALLE ORCHESTRA

NOTTINGHAM HARMONIC CHOIR

There’s no better way to experience the sensational power of orchestral music than with a live concert – and the Drivetime Concert is the perfect place to start.

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