Fall performance scheduled for November 24th
The fall performance of the Goshen Community Chorale will take place at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday evening, November 24th, at the First Presbyterian Church on Lincoln Avenue in Goshen. The theme for this event is “English Cathedral Music,” for which the Chorale will be accompanied by organ and brass. Music by Purcell, Holst, Vaughan Williams and several others will be featured. The program will also include madrigals of Morley and Gibbons. There is no cost, but a free-will collection will be taken.
Here are the program notes for this performance:
This evening’s program features sacred choral music from England – music of the cathedral – over several centuries. We will also be including a few English madrigals, just for fun.
The program opens with the popular anthem “With a voice of singing” by Martin Shaw, a twentieth century English composer who was a contemporary of Holst and Vaughan Williams, whose music we will be hearing later in the program.
We then jump back several hundred years, with the Sarum (English) plainsong “Sing, my tongue, the song of triumph,” which is based on the events of Holy Week in the Christian tradition. In our singing of this piece we will be incorporating some elements of “organum” – drones and open fifth — which was characteristic of that period and which represents the first introduction of harmony in western music. We then move on to several pieces from the Renaissance era, including works by Tallis and Gibbons. It’s worth noting that “How shallow former shadows” and “Open are the gifts of God” combine this older music with profound contemporary texts by modern hymn writers.
Next comes an anthem by Henry Purcell, who was active during the Baroque period and whom many consider to be the greatest English composer of all time. “Rejoice in the Lord always” is in a style called a “verse anthem” and uses a solo trio along with the full chorus and organ. It was given the name of “The Bell Anthem” because some think the descending scales in the base line of the accompaniment sound like the pealing of bells.
William Boyce is not as well-known as some of the other composers on this evening’s program, but wrote much delightful music. His music reflects the transition from the Baroque to the Classical periods, with Boyce being instrumental in the development of the early symphony. The anthem we will be singing this evening is a simple canon on the word “Alleluia.” It is a lovely and delightful piece.
We will close the first part of our program with three madrigals by Morley and Gibbons. They are decidedly not “cathedral music,” but are certainly English and too much fun to ignore. In the pre-television and internet era, singing such madrigals at home gatherings was a popular activity.
While the choir takes a short break, the brass and timpani will come to the stage and join with the organ to perform Rigaudon by Andre Campra. This is a well-known and popular piece for this combination of instruments and comes from the Baroque period. A collection to support the work of the Chorale will be taken at this time.
The second half of the program begins with the anthem “Beati quorum via” by the 19th century composer Charles Villiers Stanford. Much of the English choral music of this period has gone out of fashion and is rarely performed, but this piece is a beautiful masterwork and is definitely worthy of being revived. The text comes from the first verse of Psalm 119. It is interesting to note that Stanford, well over a hundred years ago, was responsible for introducing the tune Irish Gaelic tune BUNESSAN (“Morning has broken”) to our hymnals.
We close our program with the music of Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan Williams, two close friends who are towering figures in 20th English church music. Both were interested in early music and in the collection and preservation of English folk tunes. The Holst piece – “Turn back O man” — is a setting of the psalm tune OLD 124th from the Genevan Psalter of 1551 to a text by Clifford Bax. “O clap your hands,” by Vaughan Williams, is a thrilling setting of a text from Psalm 47. We will close the program with Vaughan Williams’s arrangement of The Old Hundredth Psalm Tune that that he composed for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1952, near the end of his life.