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Dr Simon Lindley on Duruflé’s Requiem

Remembrance Concert: St Chad's Far Headingley

St Peter’s Singers will be performing Maurice Duruflé’s gorgeous Requiem as part of their Remembrance Concert For the Fallen at St Chad’s, Far Headingley on Sunday 10 November at 3.00pm.

Director of Music, Dr Simon Lindley, writes:

Maurice Duruflé followed his teacher, Paul Dukas, in exercising a profound degree of self-criticism resulting in only a very small number of works surviving.

Of these, the glorious setting of the Requiem – founded entirely upon traditional ancient Plainchant melodies – is by far the most substantial. Its luminosity of expression and profound strength of purpose combine to make it one of the most powerful 20th century sacred choral utterances.

Durufl̩ follows Faur̩ in omitting all but the very brief final stanza of the lengthy Dies irae placed between Kyrie and the Offertory of the traditional mass for the dead. He also, like Faur̩ , includes the final In Paradisum antiphon originally sung at the graveside. Pie Jesu is all that remains from Dies irae Рbut what a very powerful setting it is, enhanced by a glorious solo part for cello.

The melodic plainchant lines are wonderfully accompanied by vivid and even exotic harmonies. The composer’s original score, as heard at St Chad’s, was for organ alone. Later versions followed for full orchestra and, finally – we believe the composer’s favourite – for strings, trumpets and organ as well as timpani. The work requires a choir capable of the profoundest expression and possessed of an outstanding technique, for much is demanded from the score.

The piece unfolds from a fluent Introit with the chant mainly allotted to lower voices, topped by vocalised soprano and alto parts. Kyrie that follows is polyphonic and builds to a vast plea for mercy. The Offertory, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei continue the relentless, even ecstatic, progress of the piece. Lux aeterna provides exquisite relief, the chant intoned by sopranos with rich harmony vocalised below. The very final movement, again led by sopranos, is slow and sustained, based in the favourite tonality of Olivier Messiaen, the brightest key of all – F sharp major.

Tour of the East Riding 2019

St Peter's Singers tour of the East Riding

St Peter’s Singers are off on their travels! Nothing grand, just a weekend tour of the lovely East Riding… We’ll be singing short recitals in York and Hull, and services in Hull and Beverley Minster. And of course, we’ll also be enjoying the opportunity to socialise a bit…

There will be music by Bach, Bairstow, Britten, Elgar, Harris, Howells, Hylton Stewart, Moore, Oglesby, Oldroyd, Vaughan Williams, Wesley, and Wood.

As usual, we are very fortunate to be accompanied on the organ by David Houlder, and directed by Dr Simon Lindley.

If you’re in the area and would like to hear some glorious English Cathedral Music in the most stunning settings, you can catch us as follows:

Admission is free for all events. You will be very welcome !

Many thanks indeed to all these venues for making us so welcome.

Open rehearsal thank you

Thank you to all who came to our Open Rehearsal last week. It was fantastic to be reminded how many talented and dedicated singers there are around. The future looks bright, indeed.

For anyone who couldn’t make it last week, but would be interested in joining St Peter’s Singers or finding out more, you don’t need to come to an open rehearsal to get started or find out more. Just email our secretary to make arrangements.

Open rehearsal

We’re delighted to announce our Open Rehearsal on Sunday 13 October 7.30pm at Leeds Minster LS2 7DJ, when we look to welcome enthusiastic singers along who might be interested in joining.

If you enjoy singing in choirs or are looking to join a good choir where your skills can flourish and develop, St Peter’s Singers could be just the choir for you and our open rehearsal on 13 October would be a great opportunity to find out!

Registration is from 7.15pm, and the rehearsal starts at 7.30pm, lasting till 9.15 pm. Just come to the choir vestry door (the one nearest to the Palace Hotel on the Kirkgate side of the Minster).

We will be rehearsing some of the music for our upcoming Remembrance Day concert. Copies will be provided for you on arrival, and if you feel afterwards that this is your thing, there will be the opportunity to take part in that concert.

Our normal process if you want to join is for you to attend for a number of weeks, singing at rehearsals and concerts, and then there is a simple audition to confirm your membership. So if you can’t be with us on 13 October, just email our choir secretary and make arrangements to start another week.

The Dream of Gerontius

We were hugely privileged to take part in the most moving performance of Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius on 1 June. Huge thanks to Simon Wright for the invitation, and for directing the performance with such assurance, finesse and feel for the music. Thanks also to the Leeds Festival Chorus, the Leeds Philharmonic Chorus , the Hallé Orchestra and the stellar soloists Barry Banks, Dame Sarah Connolly and David Soar for making it an evening to remember. We had a ball ! Wonderful that this amazing work can still fill Leeds Town Hall in 2019!

Reflections on Bach Cantata 82 ‘Ich habe genug’.

Edward Thornton

Wonderful as the whole of this beautiful bass solo cantata is, I find the first aria exceptionally moving. I love the gentle lilting movemen … surely a dance form. The opening phrase for both voice and oboe, recalls ‘Erbarme dich’ from the St Matthew passion, though here the text takes Simeon’s ‘Nunc Dimittis’ as its inspiration, rather than the abject remorse of Peter’s betrayal of Jesus. The cantata expresses the mystical longing to escape this earthly life and for the soul to be united with Jesus, which seems one of the chief characteristics of Lutheran mysticism in the 18th century.

I have always loved this cantata, perhaps partly because, in my youth, I was an oboist, though I never played the wonderful obbligato. I have sung it several times, and the upcoming St Peter’s Singers concert will be my sixth visit. The first time was in Cambridge, when I was at the Royal College of Music. Later a friend from the RCM, Valerie Darke, granddaughter of the composer, Harold Darke, was the very fine oboist, in a performance I organised. I also sang it in Southampton, when the oboist, Geoffrey Bridge, had been my teacher whilst I was principal oboe in Southampton Youth Orchestra.

Edward Thornton is a member of St Peter’s Singers and will be singing Ich habe genug at our concert at Fulneck Moravian Chapel on Bank Holiday Monday 26 August