A celebration of rhythm with Harlow Chorus

Communities / Mon 17th Mar 2014 at 07:13am

THE headline piece for Harlow Chorus’ concert at All Saints, Hockerill in Bishop’s Stortford on 29 March at 7.30pm is contemporary composer Will Todd’s Mass in Blue, a stunning work combining Todd’s love of improvisation and jazz harmonies with the English choral tradition and Gregorian chant. With soprano Sarah Dacey and accompaniment from Sue Graham Smith on piano, Dave Ayre on bass and Tim Gunnell on drums, this is ground-breaking stuff. However, 400 years ago Renaissance composers were also breaking the mould.

Back in 1605, Monteverdi was causing uproar in Venice, having seemingly thrown away the rule-book with his ‘modern’ church music. The choir will sing three movements from the Vespers of 1610 which, although built on traditional Gregorian chant, goes rather off-piste throwing in secular dance rhythms and syncopation. In Tudor England, William Byrd was also making waves in both choral and keyboard music – the Chorus will sing one of his most famous compositions, while our versatile conductor Alex Chaplin will play My Ladye Nevells Ground on Hockerill’s fine organ. A hundred years later, Baroque composers were continuing the trend. Sarah Dacey will perform a beautiful aria by Vivaldi, Nulla in Mundo pax sincera, which translates as ‘In this world there is no honest peace without bitterness’ – quite a commentary on present day events. This aria was featured in the closing credits of the 1996 film Shine. Later, Alex will team up with bassist and drummer to give the Jacques Loussier treatment to Bach’s famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor. Alternately straight and swung, this amazing virtuosic arrangement will be a difficult act to follow. However, Will Todd’s Mass in Blue, “imaginative, unpredictable and full of irrepressible energy” as the New York Times put it, will not disappoint!

This concert, above all, is a celebration of rhythm through the centuries, and the programmed works without exception show a genius for manipulating it, and its power to enliven a musical experience. Of course, it requires performers who will transmit this rhythm to the audience – we will do our best!

Tickets are £15 with £12 concessions (£6 for under 16s) can be bought online (no booking fee) at http://www.harlowchorus.ticketsource.co.uk and by calling Julia Dimon on 01277 362440.

Also available on the door.

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