Concerts - 2011

Walton Belshazzar’s Feast
Wednesday 15 December 2011, 7.30pm, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank, London
Friday 18 November 2011, 7.30pm, Ely Cathedral
The Choirs of St Johns, Gonville and Caius, Clare, Jesus and Trinity Colleges
The Philharmonia Orchestra
Conducted by Andrew Nethsingha

As part of the 500th anniversary celebrations for St John’s College, the College Choir took part in a large joint concert under the baton of Andrew Nethsingha with the College choirs of St John’s, Trinity, Clare and Gonville and Caius to perform Sir William Walton’s masterpiece, Belshazzar’s Feast, accompanied by the Philharmonia Orchestra. Telling the story of the downfall of King Belzhazzar of Babylon and the ending of the Israelite captivity, Walton’s orchestration is vast in scale, drawing on a full symphony orchestra, organ, a large vocal chorus, a baritone soloist, and two brass bands. The orchestration is matched by an equally extrovert and complex compositional style, which tests the musical agility and skill of the chorus.

Music for Advent and Christmas
Tuesday 13 December 2011, 7.30pm, St Mary’s Church, Cavendish, Suffolk
The Choir of Jesus College Cambridge
Conducted by Mark Williams

A programme of festive music given in one of Jesus College’s most beautiful livings.

Macmillan Cancer Support Christmas Carol Concert
Sunday 4 December 2011, 6pm, Jesus College Chapel
The Choristers of Jesus College and St Catharine’s College
Conducted by Edward Wickham and Mark Williams

A festive celebration featuring extracts from Britten’s Ceremony of Carols and carols for choir and audience.

Britten Ceremony of Carols
Friday 2 December 2011, 6.30pm, Jesus College Chapel
The Choristers and Ladies of the Choir of Jesus College Cambridge
Frances Kelly, Harp
Conducted by Mark Williams

On the evening of the College’s Audit Feast, the ladies of the Choir and the Choristers joined forces with harpist Frances Kelley to perform Benjamin Britten’s well-known Ceremony of Carols. Written in 1942 whilst Britten was returning from the United States to England, the work sets a number of traditional medieval and early modern carol texts for a three-part treble choir and harp, instantly conjuring up Britten’s very characteristic sound world. The performance was well-received by a capacity audience of Fellows, students, parents and guests, with notable acclaim reserved for the soloists: Choristers Ali Austin, Sam Fitzgerald and Tom Lane, and Soprano Catriona Arthur.

Poulenc Litanies à la Vierge Noire and Organ Concerto; Fauré Requiem; Rodney Bennett A Song at Evening
Monday 27 June 2011, 6pm, Jesus College Chapel
Sunday 26 June 2011, 7.30pm, St John’s Smith Square, London
The Choirs of Jesus College Cambridge
Britten Sinfonia
Daniel Hyde, organ
Conducted by Mark Williams

Perhaps one of the greatest French composers of the twentieth century, Francis Poulenc wrote his Litanies à la Vierge Noire after the sudden renewal of his Catholic faith following the death of a close friend in a car accident and a subsequent pilgrimage to Rocamadour. Written for three-part female choir and organ, the extended paean of devotion to the Virgin Mary represents the beginning of a more serious evolution of Poulenc’s compositional style, which would further emerge through his other famous sacred choral music. To complement this, the College Choir performed Fauré’s famous Requiem (the second version of 1893), accompanied by the forces of Cambridge University’s Orchestra-in-Association, Britten Sinfonia. Britten Sinfonia also accompanied Jesus College’s former Director of Music, Daniel Hyde (who has been Informator Choristarum at Magdalene College Oxford since October 2009), as he returned to play Poulenc’s Organ Concerto. One of the highlights of both concerts was the performance by the Combined Choirs and Britten Sinfonia of Richard Rodney Bennett’s A Song at Evening, an arrangement commissioned by the College in gratitude for the work of Professor Robert Mair and his wife Margaret, both of whom had been unstintingly supportive of the Choirs during Professor Mair’s ten years as Master of Jesus.

A concert of music for Lent and Easter
Saturday 23 April 2011, 7.30pm, St Mary and All Saints, Fotheringhay
The Choir of Jesus College Cambridge
Conducted by Mark Williams

A programme including Allegri’s Miserere and music by Bach and Rutter, sung by the College Choir.

J.S. Bach St Matthew Passion
Saturday 26 March 2011, 7pm, St Edmundsbury Cathedral
Friday 25 March 2011, 7pm, Jesus College Chapel
The Choirs of Jesus College Cambridge
Saraband Consort
Conducted by Mark Williams

Perhaps surpassing the tour to the USA as the musical highlight of the 2010-11 academic year for the Choirs at Jesus, the two performances of Bach’s St Matthew Passion given by the Combined Choirs in March 2011 offered a real insight into Bach’s highly dramatic Passiontide music through possibly one of the greatest pieces of music ever set to paper. The forces required were substantial, with an entire period-instrument orchestra in the form of the Saraband Consort, two chamber organs, both choirs and four soloists. Sophie Bevan (Soprano) and Madeleine Shaw (Mezzo-soprano) both managed to find time in their busy schedules at ENO to take part in the project, alongside Julian Podger as the Evangelist and Tenor soloist, and Philip Tebb as Christus and Bass soloist. Bach is always a joy to sing, and the St Matthew Passion especially so: taking both the singers and audience on an emotional and spiritual journey through the anguish of the Crucifixion, it is an experience never forgotten.

Elgar The Dream of Gerontius
Saturday 22 January 2011, 8pm, King’s College Chapel
The Choirs of Clare, Gonville and Caius, Jesus, Selwyn and Trinity Colleges
Conducted by Sir Richard Armstrong

Widely considered Elgar’s greatest work, The Dream of Gerontius sets a long poem by Cardinal John Henry Newman describing the journey of a dying man’s soul into the afterlife. Resonant with Dante’s famous Divine Comedy, Gerontius’ soul, represented by the Tenor soloist (Peter Wedd), is guided past hordes of screaming demons and flights of angels (represented by the chorus) by his guardian angel (Louise Poole, Soprano), all the while accompanied by a full-scale late-romantic orchestra. Darren Jeffrey (Bass) also sang the role of the priest. Gerontius is a work which is epic in its vision and scale and so suitably it was performed by the massed chorus of Jesus, Trinity, Selwyn, Gonville and Caius and Clare Colleges within the vast space of King’s College Chapel accompanied by the University Music Society’s orchestra.