The Gift of Life

The Gift of Life is the title of John Rutter’s new choral work which the choir will be performing as part of their concert on 1 April, 2017. This will be the first performance in the North of England.

Rutter’s work comprises 6 ‘Canticles of Creation’ with words from a variety of sources. The first canticle is a Benedicite, the second has words by the American Joshua Smith (‘The tree of life’). The third and most ambitious canticle for double choir is a ‘Hymn to the Creator of Light’ with words by Lancelot Andrewes and J. Franck. This piece was originally written in 1992 in memory of Herbert Howells and performed at the Gloucester Three Choirs Festival as an unaccompanied motet. Taking words from Psalm 104, the fourth canticle praises the Lord and extols the gifts of creation – ‘O Lord, how manifold are thy works’. Rutter himself has written the words for the final two canticles: ‘The gift of each day’ and ‘Believe in life’.

The choir will be performing the work with the accompaniment of an instrumental ensemble: piano, organ, harp, timpani and percussion.

If this work anticipates the joy of Easter Day, the first half of the programme consists of more solemn music, suitable for the Lenten season. Schubert’s Stabat Mater, written in 1815 when the composer was only 18, despite the solemnity of the words, is lighter, more dancelike than many other settings. He uses only 4 of the 20 stanzas of the poem, and the work is thought to have been originally performed in church rather than a concert hall. The following year he made another setting of all 20 stanzas, a much bigger work that would have had a secular performance.

The concert will also include Bruckner‘s well-known (and glorious) unaccompanied motet, ‘Christus factus est’, and a piece by Liszt that is not well-known, and which in fact the choir has never sung before. This is ‘Via crucis’. In the last 20 years of his life, Liszt’s style changed from one of exuberance, virtuosity and abundance, to one of stark simplicity. After an introductory movement this piece is divided into 14 short sections, 3 of which are for organ solo, representing the 14 Stages of the Cross. The music uses traditional chants and hymns, and words from the Stabat Mater, but Liszt creates a unique work inspired by fervent religious devotion.

The concert will be conducted by the choir’s Director of Music, Marc Murray.

1 April, 2007 at 7.30 pm.

Holy Trinity Church, Hoghton Street, Southport PR9 0PR.

Tickets: £10 (01704 535208 or 01704 564205)