Since our Spring Concert falls, as usual, in the Lenten period, Marc Murray, our Director of Music, has chosen three settings of Stabat Mater for half the programme. Stabat Mater is a thirteenth-century hymn to the Virgin Mary, exploring her sorrow as she stands by the cross on which her Son has been crucified, begging to share in her grief and praying to join Christ in paradise when death eventually comes. The poem consists of twenty 3-line stanzas; the language is vivid and emotional. So it is not surprising to find that it has attracted many composers over the centuries since it was written, though they don’t all set the complete poem.
The earliest setting that we shall be singing is by John Browne, written some time in the late 15th century. Little is known about this composer and all the music of his that still exists comes from the Eton Choirbook, that amazing legacy of Tudor choral music. Browne’s Stabat Mater interweaves wonderful long melodic lines; it is music of great spirituality.
Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla, a 17th-century Spanish composer, writes less austere, but still heartfelt music in his setting of the first two stanzas of the poem. However, the best-known setting that we shall be singing is by Palestrina, dating from the end of the 16th century. This is an impressive work for double chorus, which sets all 20 stanzas, creating different effects with the eight vocal lines at his disposal.
The other half of our programme is taken up by Dvorak’s Mass in D. He too did write a Stabat Mater, but perhaps a whole evening of such settings would have been a bit indigestible, and in any case his is a very long one! The Mass that we shall be performing has the lovely melodies we associate with that composer and plenty of drama in his setting of the well-known words.
The concert will be conducted by Marc Murray, with Shaun Turnbull on the organ.
Saturday, 6 April 2019 at 7.30pm.
Holy Trinity Church, Hoghton St, Southport PR9 0PT.
Tickets: £12 at the door. In advance: 01704 540097 or 01704 535208.