Summer delights 2022

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We were delighted to welcome so many of you to our presentation of Music for Good Friday, which received good reviews. It is always good to see friends and familiar faces, but it was also very pleasing to see and meet people for whom this was their first choral concert or their first concert at Leeds Minster. We hope you enjoyed it ! Judging by the feedback, both music and surroundings contributed to a new and at times very moving experience. We hope you will come again! 

We’re pleased now to announce details of the two concerts we will be giving this summer: a Platinum Jubilee recital on June 11 at Leeds Minster, and a trip out of town to St Cuthbert’s church in Pateley Bridge on July 9. You can book for both of them on-line now.

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I was glad

Music to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

Leeds Minster
Saturday 11 June 2022 7.30pm

The music for this Jubilee recital is drawn mostly from Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation in 1953, including well-known classics such as Handel’s Zadok the Priest and Parry’s I was glad. The short anthem Thou wilt keep him in perfect piece by SS Wesley, once organist of Leeds Minster is part of the mix, along with movements from Vaughan WIlliams’ Mass in G Minor in this his 150th Anniversary.

The programme looks back briefly, as did the Coronation, to the music of Queen Elizabeth I, and forwards to the current day with a composition by the late Francis Jackson from the 2011 Choirbook for the Queen, and a work by Judith Weir, the current Master of the Queen’s Music (pictured above).

Shaun Turnbull plays the organ and Alex Woodrow directs.

The concert will be followed by a chance to meet members of the choir and other music lovers over a complimentary glass of wine or juice.

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A Choral Fancy

Musical delights for a Summer Evening

Saturday 9 July 2022 7.30pm
St Cuthbert’s Church, Pateley Bridge

nr Harrogate, HG3 5LQ

The programme for this recital incorporates a delightful mix of styles and sounds. There’s a nod to the Queen’s Jubilee with two of Handel’s Coronation Anthems and Parry’s I was glad, together with three of his beautiful Songs of Farewell. Rheinberger’s Abendlied (‘Evening hymn’) brings a more reflective mood, while James Macmillan’s Lux aeterna allows us to briefly revisit our Songs of Solace programme from last October, and remember those lost in the pandemic.

Two of Poulenc’s short Motets for a time of penitience take us briefly to the very different sound world of Twentieth century French spiritual music, before we switch to a more relaxed set of secular part songs, including the well-known Linden Lea by Vaughan Williams and Stanford’s gorgeous The Blue Bird. This group finishes with Weaver bird, a short and humorous composition by our in-house duo poet Hannah Stone and composer Matthew Oglesby.

We finish, fittingly for a choir with our name, with two settings of the text Tu es Petrus (You are Peter), one by the 16th century master Palestrina and so one of the earliest known settings, and the other composed for our 40th anniversary in 2017 by Philip Moore, formerly Organist of York Minster.

Anthony Gray plays the organ and Alex Woodrow directs.

Tickets (£10) will be available at the door or on-line.
The concert starts at 7.30pm and the bar will be open from 7.00pm

Music for Good Friday 2022

Italian Music for Passiontide

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We look forward with great excitement to our presentation of Music for Good Friday, always one of the high points of our calendar, and one we’ve had to forgo for the last two years.

This year we present a programme of absolutely gorgeous music for Passiontide by Italian composers. Gregorio Allegri’s famous Miserere is included, as well as Antonio Lotti’s well-known Crucifixus est pro nobis in 8 parts.

But the real stars of this programme are settings of the Miserere (Psalm 51) and the 13th century latin poem Stabat Mater Dolorosa by Francesco and Domenico Scarlatti respectively. They were uncle and nephew, Francesco being the younger brother of the more famous Alessandro, who was Domenico’s father. They lived at the height of the Baroque period, Domenico being born in 1685, the same year as Handel and JS Bach.

Both these works will sound familiar to lovers of Vivaldi’s Gloria, but with different textures providing additional variety to the ear. Francesco’s Miserere exploits different combinations of soloists, expertly sung by members of the choir, mixed in between full choral movements.

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Domenico writes for 10 vocal parts and continuo, demanding considerable virtuosity at times, but achieving a richness and sonority rarely matched in the baroque era.

He rises superbly to the challenge of setting words that express so eloquently not just the sorrow of Jesus’ mother Mary as she watches her son dying a cruel death, but also the sorrow of any other compassionate human being reflecting on such events. As so often, the music reaches into places that the words, especially the latin ones, don’t necessarily reach.

They are very fine works, deserving of greater exposure. This is a rare chance to hear them live.

The music starts at 7.00pm on Good Friday 15 April 2022 in Leeds Minster, and will last about 75 minutes.

Why not book now ?

Music for Good Friday 2020

How desolate lies the city, that was full of people…

When we met for the last time before the Coronavirus lockdown, it was already clear that we would not be able to give our traditional presentation of Music for Good Friday. Disappointingly, this meant postponing our keenly and widely anticipated second performance of Matthew Oglesby’s superb Requiem, Penthos. The mood was sombre, with a significant number of our members already choosing to stay at home. So for an hour we just sang music for fun.

However, the Good Friday programme was also due to include a fine motet which we had sung at the first performance of Penthos, and which had special resonances for Good Friday this year: Rudolf Mauersberger’s Wie liegt die Stadt so wüst (‘How desolate lies the city’).

75 years ago, in February 1945, the Allies attacked and destroyed Dresden in a ferocious firebomb raid, timed for the end of Shrove Tuesday, and the traditional Carnival. The children, temporarily relieved of the firewatch duty they now habitually undertook in the absence of the menfolk, were out and about. Mauersberger, then Kantor at the Kreuzkirche, lost eleven of his choristers that evening, as the church, school and archives, together with most of the city were incinerated and reduced to rubble.

Six weeks later, over the Easter weekend that followed, he composed the motet Wie liegt die Stadt so wüst, setting an astringent selection of verses from The Lamentation of Jeremiah so terse and disjointed that it at once conveys the mute speechlessness of trauma while allowing the music to delve deep into that darkness which speech cannot reach. It was first performed the following August, at the first service conducted in the ruins of the Kreuzkirche, but only achieved popularity in Germany in the 1960s, as the next generation of Germans reached adulthood.

With all this in mind, as our last act of singing together before entering this modern period of darkness, we went into Leeds Minster and despite our diminished numbers, sang this wonderful work to an empty church. This is a recording of that occasion, which we offer, ‘warts and all’, in place of the live performance. We hope that it resonates for you as it did for us, while also lending some perspective on our current troubles, whether you are listening this Good Friday or on another day, and we look forward to the day when we can sing it to you live.

Lunchtime choral music in Leeds – Elgar, Britten and Moore

If you have an hour free in the middle of the day next Monday 17 February you could drop in to Leeds Town Hall and catch St Peter’s Singers recital. A wonderfully varied programme of English Cathedral Music by Elgar, Britten and Moore awaits to delight your senses! Admission is free.

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Philip Moore

The concert opens with music by Philip Moore, formerly Organist and Master of the Music at York Minster. His lively and robust setting of Tu es Petrus (‘You are Peter’), commissioned and first sung by St Peter’s Singers in 2018, sets a dynamic tone. ‘All wisdom cometh from the Lord ‘, which follows, provides a profound contrast and culminates in a moment of the most intense and spiritual tranquility.

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Sir Edward Elgar

Classic Elgar follows on both the grand and the miniature scale, revealing how the composer was as equally at home writing simple works for Catholic liturgy as he was writing grand anthems for the Edwardian Anglican establishment. Ecce sacerdos magnus (‘Behold the great priest‘) and Ave verum corpus (‘Hail true body‘) provide the sorbets between two large-scale settings of Psalms 48 (‘Great is the Lord‘) and 29 (‘Give unto the Lord‘), works which require committed singing and virtuoso organ playing. We are delighted to welcome David Houlder once again to join us, and provide his expert accompaniment.

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Benjamin Britten

The programme concludes with Benjamin Britten’s wonderfully whimsical cantata Rejoice in the Lamb. This fine work, composed in 1943, sets the words of that somewhat troubled and eccentric (or should that be ‘mystic’ ?) poet Christopher Smart. He does so with great insight and warmth, not least the unforgettable section beginning ‘For I will consider my cat Geoffrey…’ The final, restrained Hallelujah recaptures something of the serenity heard earlier in Philip Moore’s work.

Everyone is welcome at this concert, where we hope to see old friends and make new ones!

Elgar, Britten and Moore – find out more about the programme by reading Dr Lindley’s programme notes here.

Carols with a Yorkshire twist

There will be Carols with a Yorkshire twist at Bolton Abbey on Saturday afternoon.

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Christmas is coming – we’re well into Advent now – and following our highly successful performance of Bach, Vaughan Williams and Handel at Fulneck last Saturday, it’s time for something simpler and more relaxing.

So why not join us for some Carols and Seasonal Music for Christmas in the serenity of Bolton Priory this Saturday afternoon 14 December at 3.30 pm ?

Deliberately timed to coincide with calm of the winter dusk, and to fit in between either a country walk or a city dash and the evening’s social buzz, this will be offering an oasis of calm, and a chance to catch up with the things that matter most.

Alongside many well-known carols from all over the world that have come to characterise the best of Christmas, there will also be a strong Yorkshire twist, with a number of carols written by composers with Yorkshire connections, and a special Yorkshire surprise to finish with!

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Not least among these are Jan Holdstock’s popular ‘Tell out the news’ – remembered fondly by countless grown-up children. We will also be singing her ‘Donkey Carol’ – a carol with a kick, if ever there was one!

We remember Jan with great fondness both for her contribution to our musical family and for the joy she brought to so many through her charming, humorous and sophisticated music for children, who will be welcome to join us. Please bring them with you!

There will be opportunities for everyone to fill their lungs and join in.

Admission is free and there will be a retiring collection in aid of Bolton Priory. Please come and bring your friends !