A Great English Choral Tradition
Saturday, March 24, 2007 at 3:00pm
New York Choral Society
John Daly Goodwin, conductor
New Jersey Youth Symphony
St. Bartholomew’s Church
Park Avenue at 51st Street, NYC
Our program—Elgar’s Great is the Lord, Vaughan Williams’ Mass in G Minor and Britten’s Saint Nicolas—is in the great tradition of British choral music. Elgar’s Great is the Lord, written in 1912 and first performed in Westminster Abbey, is the ideal choice for an audience to hear the magnificent St. Bart’s organ and the power of the New York Choral Society.
In contrast, Vaughan Williams’ Mass in G Minor is a capella, written for double chorus and solo quartet. The Mass was composed for liturgical use and looks back to the style of the Tudor age while still employing 20th century vocabulary. For sheer beauty of sound, the writing for voices is magical. The New York Choral Society’s recording of the Mass in G Minor was nominated for a Grammy award in 1985.
Benjamin Britten’s Saint Nicolas tells the story of the 4th Century Saint who later became known as Santa Claus. In 1948 Britten was commissioned by Lansing College, in celebration of its 100th anniversary, to write a piece that would include children and students. He was provided with the text written by Eric Crozier (also the librettist of Albert Herring). The text selected eight episodes from the life of Saint Nicolas—his birth, his call to the holy life, his saving of the sailors on his way to Palestine, his election as bishop of Myra, his imprisonment under Diocletian, his restoration to life of the three little boys pickled in brine by a vicious butcher, and finally his tranquil joy in the face of death. Britten wrote the piece for girls, boys and adult choirs with the voice of Nicolas being sung by a tenor soloist (sung by Peter Pears in the original production). The instrumental accompaniment was written for student and professional musicians and consists of piano duet, strings, percussion and organ. We are pleased to be partnering with the fine New Jersey Youth Symphony (with whom we will also be performing Bruckner’s Te Deum in June 2007).
St. Bartholomew’s Church has been an active participant in the musical life of New York City for many years. Designated a New York City landmark, it is renowned for its superior acoustics and the largest pipe organ in the city.
* Listen to a podcast describing our concert given by our Music Director, John Daly Goodwin