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Monday, July 17

  1. page Season 2016-17 edited Season 2016-17 John Gibbons conductor {http://stalbanschamberchoir.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2…

    Season 2016-17
    John Gibbons conductor
    {http://stalbanschamberchoir.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Brochure2016-212x300.jpg} Brochure2016Click above for full details
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    Our 2016–17 concert season offers a wide range of exciting and beautiful music. We begin in October with some of the greatest music written for choir and wind orchestra, while in January we offer a programme of choral masterpieces written by some of the greatest modern French and Swiss composers. In March we move to the Renaissance for a feast of Italian and Spanish music, notably including Allegri’s Miserere, as well as works by the globe-trotting Orlando di Lasso. Following Easter we have our biennial Exchange with our German friends, the Wormser Kantorei, this time involving two concerts in Worms. Back home, as a light-hearted finale to the season, our July concert combines early and modern compositions devoted to the natural world, including two settings of St Francis’s words and very modern works devoted to birds, Jonathan Dove’s Who Killed Cock Robin? and Karl Jenkins’s Parliament of Owls.
    Tickets £15 (£5 child/student)
    Tel 07570 454744 or email tickets@stalbanschamberchoir.org.uk
    or online at www.ticketsource.co.uk
    {Birds and Beasts.jpg}
    Saturday 1 July 2017 at 7.30pm
    St Saviour’s Church
    St Albans AL1 4DF
    Jonathan Dove Who killed Cock Robin?
    William Walton Cantico del sole
    Eric Whitacre The seal lullaby
    Karl Jenkins A parliament of owls
    Carl Orff Laudes creaturarum
    Orlando Gibbons The silver swan
    and works by Janequin, Poulenc, Banchieri and Monteverdi
    plus Orff (Carmina Burana extracts)
    with Nick Robinson piano
    conducted by John Gibbons
    An owl, a swan, a beetle and a seal are among the many creatures present, sometimes in great numbers, in this concert of music celebrating the natural world
    Stories abound of St Francis of Assisi talking to birds and animals. We sing two settings of his hymn in praise of God’s creation – Laudes Creaturarum (Praise of the Creatures) (1954) by Carl Orff and the Cantico del Sole (Canticle of the Sun) (1974) by William Walton – and also the Quatre Petites Prières de Saint François d’Assise (1948) by Francis Poulenc.
    Thirteenth-century poetry found in a Benedictine monastery is set by Carl Orff in his famous cantata Carmina Burana (1936). It includes songs celebrating the joyous face of Spring and the forest flowers.
    But all is not well. Who killed Cock Robin? The birds and animals discuss the funeral arrangements for the murdered robin in this 1995 setting of the nursery rhyme by Jonathan Dove.
    The English language contains many beautiful and evocative collective nouns for birds and beasts, including ‘a gaggle of geese’, ‘a piteousness of doves’, and ‘an ostentation of peacocks’, imaginatively set to music in A Parliament of Owls (2010) by Karl Jenkins.
    We meet another owl in Contrapunto bestiale alla mente (1608) by Adriano Banchieri, along with a cuckoo, a cat and a dog, while nightingales feature in two songs: Dolcissimo usignolo (Sweetest nightingale) (1638), an early Baroque madrigal by Claudio Monteverdi and Le chant des oiseaux (1529) by Clément Janequin, in which the birds celebrate the reawakening of the earth from its winter slumber.
    A poem from The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling provided the inspiration for The Seal Lullaby (2004) by Eric Whitacre, while The Silver Swan (1612) – the most famous madrigal written by Orlando Gibbons – presents the legend that a swan only sings just before its death.
    Please join us afterwards for drinks and party nibbles in the church hall
    Tickets £15 (£5 child/student)
    April 2017 – Concerts in Worms, Germany
    Miserere – Renaissance Masters, Wednesday 19 April 2017, Liebfrauenkirche, Worms, Germany.
    A programme of Renaissance classics from our March concert including Gregorio Allegri Miserere, Antonio Lotti Crucifixus, Giovanni da Palestrina Stabat mater dolorosa, Tomas Luis de Victoria Missa Salve Regina and works by Orlande de Lassus.
    Haydn and Jenkins, Saturday 22 April 2017, Dreifaltigkeitskirche, Worms, Germany
    The biannual concert with the Wormser Kantorei will feature the Theresienmesse by Joseph Haydn, and Requiem by Karl Jenkins.
    {http://stalbanschamberchoir.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Miserere-image-300x211.jpg} Click image for detailed fyer
    ===Saturday 4 March 2017 at7.30pm===
    St Saviour’s Church
    St Albans AL1 4DF
    Gregorio Allegri Miserere
    Antonio Lotti Crucifixus
    Antonio Caldara Crucifixus
    Giovanni da Palestrina Stabat mater dolorosa
    Tomas Luis de Victoria Missa Salve Regina
    and works by Orlande de Lassus
    with Lynda Sayce lute
    conducted by John Gibbons
    Choral masterworks for Holy Week and Easter by the principal composers of Renaissance Europe are brought together in this concert.
    The legendary Miserere by Gregorio Allegri (c. 1582-1652) with its mixture of plainsong and glorious ornamentation is arguably the most famous piece of music composed for the Sistine Chapel Choir in the Vatican. Transcribing it or performing it elsewhere was prohibited by the Pope on pain of excommunication but the fourteen-year-old Mozart on a visit to Rome in 1770 is said to have written it down from memory and allowed it to be published. Felix Mendelssohn later transcribed it a fourth higher – producing the famous top Cs sung by a soprano soloist – and his version has become one we sing today.
    Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525-1594) was one of the most prolific and highly acclaimed musicians of the sixteenth century whose work is seen as setting the standard for Renaissance polyphony. The intricate Stabat Mater dolorosa for double choir, also written for the Sistine Chapel, has many changes of rhythm and mood to describe Mary’s suffering at the foot of the Cross.
    The Flemish composer Orlande de Lassus (1532-1594) spent his early years travelling widely in Italy and his last thirty years working in Munich for the Dukes of Bavaria. His hymn for Easter Morning Aurora lucis rutilat (The dawn glows with rosy light) describes the rejoicing of heaven and earth and the wailing and moaning of hell as the victor Christ surges forth from the grave. Lassus extended this sound world into the Magnificat octavi toni super Aurora lucis rutilat to produce a spectacular display of choral fireworks.
    Tomás Luis de Victoria (c. 1548-1611) was born and died in Spain but between 1567 and 1587 lived and worked in Rome. He devoted his life to the church and wrote only sacred music influenced by the Italian style but uniquely Spanish. His beautiful Missa Salve Regina for unaccompanied double choir was written in Madrid in 1592.
    The Baroque composers Antonio Lotti (1667-1740) and Antonio Caldara (c.1670-1736) were choristers together at St Mark’s Basilica in Venice and later composed many operas for the royal courts of Italy, Spain and Germany. Their dramatic settings of the Crucifixus from the Credo of the Mass use rising suspensions to create a mood of tension and anguish.
    {http://stalbanschamberchoir.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/ParisGargoyleIcon-300x221.jpg} The French ConnectionSaturday 21 January 2017 at7.30pm
    St Peter’s Church
    St Albans AL1 3HG
    Frank Martin Mass for Double Choir
    Jean Langlais Messe solennelle
    and works by Messiaen, Poulenc and Rütti
    with Tom Winpenny organ
    conducted by John Gibbons
    The centrepiece of this exploration of choral gems by 20th and 21st Century French and Swiss composers is the Mass for Double Choir by the Swiss composer Frank Martin (1890 -1974). Martin was an intensely self-critical composer and withheld this piece from public performance for nearly forty years, saying it was “a matter between God and myself”. Since its first performance in 1963, it has become recognised as one of the great masterpieces of unaccompanied choral music, displaying an intense combination of austere spirituality and joyous exuberance.
    Jean Langlais (1907-1991) and Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) were fellow students at the Paris Conservatoire in the late 1920s. Langlais’ Messe solennelle (1949) for choir and organ is said to be his finest piece of church music, combining elements of plainsong with dissonant counterpoint and rich chromatic harmony. Messiaen’s setting of the Communion motet O sacrum convivium (1937) is a rapt, slow-moving meditation for unaccompanied choir which displays his highly individual approach to harmonic colour, melody and rhyme.
    Francis Poulenc (1899–1963) felt that he had “put the best and most genuine part of myself” into his sacred choral music. O magnum mysterium, composed in 1952, is one of his settings of four traditional Christmas texts and is characterised by its great beauty, excitement and eccentricity.
    Vocalised bird calls have been ingeniously incorporated into a sumptuous setting of the Nunc dimittis by modern-day Swiss composer Carl Rütti (b. 1949), inspired by the reference in St Luke’s Gospel to two sacrificial turtledoves. He says of this piece that “the choral sound represents the light the aged Simeon predicted”.
    {http://stalbanschamberchoir.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/angel-trumpet-300x221.jpg} angel trumpetClick image for detailed flyer
    ===Saturday 22 October 2016 at 7.30pm===
    St Saviour’s Church
    St Albans AL1 4DF
    Anton Bruckner Mass in E minor
    Igor Stravinsky Mass for choir, woodwind & brass
    Edmund Rubbra Veni Creator Spiritus
    with the City Wind Ensemble
    conducted by John Gibbons
    Angel Voices explores the extraordinary sonorities of a choir combined with woodwind and brass instruments.
    The concert will feature the work of three contrasting composers: humble, unworldly Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) from Austria, sophisticated Russian-French-American Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) and acclaimed British musician Edmund Rubbra (1901-1986). All three were profoundly devout and strove to make church music clear and straightforward to sing, and separate from any theatrical religious celebration.
    Bruckner’s Mass No 2 in E Minor for eight- part choir and wind ensemble is warm and expressive, containing echoes of Palestrina’s Missa brevis (1570) and Wagner’s Tristanund Isolde (1857-9). Written in 1866 as a commission for the Bishop of Linz for the consecration of the new Votive Chapel at Linz Cathedral, its first performance took place in the open air, which led Bruckner to choose woodwind and brass rather than string-based accompaniment.
    Stravinsky described his Mass for Mixed Chorus and Wind Instruments, one of his most beautiful compositions, as “very cold music, absolutely cold, that will appeal directly to the spirit”. It was composed between 1944 and 1948 while Stravinsky was living in California, in reaction to his discovery in a second-hand bookstore of some Mozart masses. He wrote: “As I played through these rococo-operatic sweets-of-sin, I knew I had to write a Mass of my own, but a real one.” In this piece, he combines the ancient musical languages of both the Russian Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church to great effect.
    Rubbra too had a deep knowledge and understanding of Renaissance and Eastern music which gave his work an individual spiritual dimension. His Veni, creator Spiritus, a motet for four-part choir and brass, was first performed at a Promenade concert in 1966 conducted by Malcolm Arnold. It is both solemn and colourful, with resonances of Stravinsky’s work.
    The choir will be accompanied by an ensemble comprising two oboes, cor anglais, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets and three trombones, and conducted by the chamber choir’s Musical Director, John Gibbons.

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Monday, November 30

  1. page Season 2015-16 edited Concerts 2015-16 John Gibbons conductor Bach - B minor Mass Saturday 28 November 2015 St Sav…

    Concerts 2015-16
    John Gibbons conductor
    Bach - B minor Mass
    Saturday 28 November 2015
    St Saviour's Church 7.30pm
    Durufle - Requiem
    Saturday 6 February 2016
    St Peter's Church 7.30pm
    with Lloyd, Parry, Rubbra, and Stanford
    Shakespeare in Love
    Saturday 30 April 2016
    St Saviour's Church 7.30pm
    Part of St Albans Shakespeare Festival
    At the Court of Krakow
    Saturday 2 July 2016
    St Saviour's Church 7.30pm
    Music old and new from Poland

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  2. page Season 2014-15 edited Concerts 2014-15 John Gibbons conductor Saturday 25 October 2014, St Saviour’s Church 7.30pm …

    Concerts 2014-15
    John Gibbons conductor
    Saturday 25 October 2014, St Saviour’s Church 7.30pm
    Mystical Experiences: music for many voices
    Victoria Mass Laetatus sum
    Josquin des Prez Qui habitat in adiutorio altissimi
    Thomas Tallis Spem in alium
    20 December 2014 St Peter’s Church 7.30pm
    A Star is Born: reflections on Christmas
    John Tavener Ex Maria Virgine / The Lamb
    Francis Poulenc Quatre Motets pour le temps de Noël
    Pierre Villette Hymne a la Vièrge
    John Gardner Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day
    Bob Chilcott The Twelve days of Christmas
    Saturday 28 February 2015 St Peter’s Church 7.30pm
    Wynde, Whirlwinds and Flight
    John Taverner Mass ‘The Western Wynde’
    Vaughan Williams The Voice out of the Whirlwind
    Vaughan Williams A Vision of Aeroplanes
    Vaughan Williams Valiant-for-Truth
    Eric Whitacre Leonardo Dreams of his Flying Machine
    Saturday 11 April 2015 St Albans Cathedral 7.30pm
    Twin town concert with the Wormser Kantorei and Stefan Merkelbach
    Amadeus Chamber Orchestra
    Haydn Te Deum
    Mozart Exultate Jubilate
    Mozart Mass in C minor
    Saturday 4 July 2015 St Paul's Church 7.30pm
    Independence Day
    Samuel Barber Agnus Dei
    F.J. Brown The Jumblies
    Constant Lambert Rio Grande
    Will Todd Songs of Love
    Geroge Gershwin I Got Rhythm / It Ain’t Necessarily So / Summertime

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Wednesday, July 23

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  2. page home edited ... Welcome to the Archive for St Albans Chamber Choir Here you can search the history of the cho…
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    Welcome to the Archive for St Albans Chamber Choir
    Here you can search the history of the choir.
    Just type a word into the search box on the left and see where it takes you
    For the latest news and events, see below:
    Our main web site is at http://www.StAlbansChamberChoir.org.uk, and our latest postings are below:
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  3. page John Gibbons edited ... John Gibbons, Musical Director {http://user22092.vs.easily.co.uk/wpsandbox/wp-content/uploads…
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    John Gibbons, Musical Director
    {http://user22092.vs.easily.co.uk/wpsandbox/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/john.jpg} John Gibbons, St Albans Chamber Choir’s musical director, is renowned for his communication with audiences and was awarded a special prize by the British Music Society in 2000 for this. John has always encompassed a broad range of disciplines within the musical world: he enjoys conducting opera, orchestral concerts, choral concerts, and chamber choirs, as well as performing as a pianist and organist.
    John Gibbon's web site
    John Gibbons studied at Queens’ College, Cambridge, the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music, winning numerous awards as a conductor, pianist and accompanist. He has conducted across the globe with notable opera productions at the Spier Festival in South Africa, the Crested Butte Festival in Colorado and the Romanian premiere of Walton’s First Symphony with the Georges Enescu Philharmonic, and a host of world premieres in the UK including the Third Orchestra Set by Charles Ives and William Alwyn’s Violin Concerto. He has recorded a number of discs including Skalkottas with the Philharmonia Orchestra, the string concertos of Arthur Benjamin for the Dutton Epoch label and the soundtrack for Laura Rossi’s score to the film The Battle of Ancre.
    John has conducted numerous acclaimed productions for Opera Holland Park and conducted most of the major British orchestras including the RPO, RSNO. CBSO, LPO, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia, the Ulster Orchestra and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. John is Principal Conductor of Worthing Symphony Orchestra, the professional orchestra of West Sussex, presenting concerts in the stunning acoustics of the Assembly Hall, Worthing, with an array of international artists which has recently included Nicola Benedetti, Idil Biret, Julian Bliss, Julian Lloyd-Webber, and the BBC Young Musicians Lara Melda and Laura van der Heijden. Since October 2009 John and WSO have appeared annually at the Malcolm Arnold Festival in Northampton and return there on Sunday 21st October 2012 with Julian Lloyd-Webber as soloist.
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  4. page John Gibbons edited John Gibbons, Musical Director {http://user22092.vs.easily.co.uk/wpsandbox/wp-content/uploads/2…

    John Gibbons, Musical Director
    {http://user22092.vs.easily.co.uk/wpsandbox/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/john.jpg} John Gibbons, St Albans Chamber Choir’s musical director, is renowned for his communication with audiences and was awarded a special prize by the British Music Society in 2000 for this. John has always encompassed a broad range of disciplines within the musical world: he enjoys conducting opera, orchestral concerts, choral concerts, and chamber choirs, as well as performing as a pianist and organist.
    John Gibbons studied at Queens’ College, Cambridge, the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music, winning numerous awards as a conductor, pianist and accompanist. He has conducted across the globe with notable opera productions at the Spier Festival in South Africa, the Crested Butte Festival in Colorado and the Romanian premiere of Walton’s First Symphony with the Georges Enescu Philharmonic, and a host of world premieres in the UK including the Third Orchestra Set by Charles Ives and William Alwyn’s Violin Concerto. He has recorded a number of discs including Skalkottas with the Philharmonia Orchestra, the string concertos of Arthur Benjamin for the Dutton Epoch label and the soundtrack for Laura Rossi’s score to the film The Battle of Ancre.
    John has conducted numerous acclaimed productions for Opera Holland Park and conducted most of the major British orchestras including the RPO, RSNO. CBSO, LPO, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia, the Ulster Orchestra and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. John is Principal Conductor of Worthing Symphony Orchestra, the professional orchestra of West Sussex, presenting concerts in the stunning acoustics of the Assembly Hall, Worthing, with an array of international artists which has recently included Nicola Benedetti, Idil Biret, Julian Bliss, Julian Lloyd-Webber, and the BBC Young Musicians Lara Melda and Laura van der Heijden. Since October 2009 John and WSO have appeared annually at the Malcolm Arnold Festival in Northampton and return there on Sunday 21st October 2012 with Julian Lloyd-Webber as soloist.
    As well as working with St Albans Chamber Choir, John’s choral conducting includes Clifton Cathedral Choir, where he is choral director, and several large choirs. In recent years he has led enormous children’s choirs in performances in Symphony Hall, Birmingham of Requiem and Stabat Mater by Karl Jenkins and annually directs the Ulverston Festival Chorus. In the autumn of 2012 he will chorus-master the Royal College of Music’s performance of Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast.
    John was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in recognition of his welcoming approach to audiences. He works closely with composer Karl Jenkins and set up and ran two national tours of Karl’s choral music in conjunction with EMI Classics. He made the official reduced orchestral version of Karl’s Stabat Mater as well as an acclaimed new reduced orchestral version of Walton’s opera Troilus & Cressida for Opera St Louis, Missouri. In January 2012 his condensed version of Puccini’s opera Fanciulla del West, West End Girl, premiered to much critical acclaim in London.
    John’s other interests include garden design, cooking, music talks with such provocative titles as Is Live music Dead? and sport, in particular his football team - Wolverhampton Wanderers – a passion he shares with the late Sir Edward Elgar. As composer John has written a film score for the BFI as well as choral works for Clifton Cathedral. His choir and brass work Woefully arrayed was recently performed by St Albans Chmaber Choir in St Albans Cathedral. whilst his most recent work Verbum Caro will be premiered in Tewkesbury Abbey in December 2012.
    John is chairman of the British Music Society, promoting and preserving British music, and a Trustee of the William Alwyn Foundation. Future engagements include the world premiere of Malcolm Arnold’s opera The Dancing Master, a showing of The Battle of the Somme with live orchestral score on Remembrance Sunday in Worthing and a special Wagner Scena to celebrate his bicentenary with Sir John Tomlinson and Worthing Symphony Orchestra on Saturday 25th May 2013.
    Recent reviews
    SEEN AND HEARD UK CONCERT REVIEW – Frank Bridge, Stravinsky and Rachmaninov: Alexander Soares (piano), Ealing Symphony Orchestra, John Gibbons,St Barnabas’s Church, Pitshanger Lane, Ealing, London, 20.2.2010 (BBr) http://www.musicweb-international.com/SandH/2010/Jan-Jun10/ealing2020.htm
    “Gibbons is a most undemonstrative conductor on the podium – I have the feeling that he sees himself as a conduit, through which the music must pass so as to allow the music he is directing to be heard as clearly as possible, for he never imposes himself between the music and the audience – but the results he achieves are quite stunning.”
    ” . . . with Gibbons’s knowledge of music, and his insights, it was thoroughly enjoyable and easily enjoyed. Bravo to all concerned.”
    ” . . . for here again, is an example of Gibbons’s understanding of music. “Too many people see Le Sacre as an orchestral showpiece, but it’s not, it’s a piece for dance”, he told me, and his approach was just that.”

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  5. page Season 2013-14 edited ... Go Brazilian! 5 July 2014 St Peter’s Church, St Albans {http://www.stalbanschamberchoir.org.…
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    Go Brazilian!
    5 July 2014 St Peter’s Church, St Albans
    {http://www.stalbanschamberchoir.org.uk/wpsandbox/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Go-Brazilian-thumbnail-200px-web-150x150.jpg} Go Brazilian thumbnail 200px (web) The The Choir went
    Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) is probably Brazil's best-known composer and Bachianas Brasileiras his best-known composition. A Brazilian take on Baroque style, this very popular set of nine suites was written for various combinations of instruments and voices between 1930 and 1945. No. 9 is the only one with a choral version by the composer himself.
    The earliest piece in the concert is Los coflades de la estleya by Juan de Araujo (1646–1712), a Spaniard who spent all his working life in the service of the Catholic Church in South America. Other featured composers have been influenced by Latin American music: Jean Berger's (1909-2002) Brazilian Psalm resulted from a wartime stay in Rio de Janeiro, while Guy Turner's (born 1955) Tequila Samba summons up the rhythm of the dance under the influence of the spirit!
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  6. page Wormser Kantorei joint concert reviews edited In St Albans in April 2011, our 22nd joint concert * * * * * * {http://www.stalbanschamberchoi…

    In St Albans in April 2011, our 22nd joint concert
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    {http://www.stalbanschamberchoir.org.uk/wpsandbox/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/The-sea-the-sea-Web-thumbnail-small.bmp}
    Choirs’ joint concert is perfect pairing
    WK and SACC at St Albans Cathedral 30 April 2011
    IN more than 40 years of partnership between the St Albans Chamber Choir and the Wormser Kantorei there can have been few joint concerts quite as impressive as their performance in St Albans Abbey on Saturday.
    For the first time the two choirs teamed up with the St Albans Symphony Orchestra and the central work of the evening was Ralph Vaughan Williams' epic A Sea Symphony. For any choir and orchestra to reach the standard of performance which was achieved on Saturday would have been tribute enough to the musicians but the fact that the two parts of the choir were rehearsing hundreds of miles apart in St
    Albans and its German twin town, Worms, is an even greater tribute to their two conductors, John Gibbons of the Chamber Choir and Stefan Merkelbach of the Kantorei.
    Coupled with an excellent performance by the St Albans Symphony Orchestra and outstanding soloists soprano Anna Gorbachyova and baritone Toby Stafford-Allen the evening was one to remember. Vaughan Williams' work, a cross between a symphony and a cantata, has at its heart poems of the American Walter Whitman and throughout, the often deep and brooding music depicts the ever-restless sea and the wind. John Gibbons, who conducted the epic work, constantly ensured that the orchestra never overpowered the singers and achieved a finely balanced overall performance. It is around 30 years since the symphony was performed in St Albans but if anyone wants to hear it again, I understand the members of the Wormser Kantorei were so impressed with it that they have already decided it will be the central work of the joint concert the two choirs will be staging in Worms in 2013
    The first half of the concert opened with Alan Rawsthorne's prelude and nocturne written for the 1950's film The Cruel Sea, an all too brief insight into the works of a composer who is yet to achieve the prominence he deserves. Equally Johannes Brahms' quite beautiful Schicksalslied,the piece in the concert chosen by the Wormser Kantorei and conducted by Stefan Merkelbach, is another piece of music worthy of much wider recognition. Rarely heard in this country the work, typically Brahmsian in its style, was, once more, quite exquisitely performed by the orchestra and joint choirs.
    John Manning - Herts Advertiser (5 May 2011)
    Destiny - People - The Sea
    Exciting Partnership Concert in St Albans Cathedral
    The partnership between the Wormser Kantorei and the St Albans Chamber Choir, which began more than forty years ago, has developed into a tradition in which friendships and personal relationships have flourished. During their most recent visit to St Albans, the Wormser Kantorei were officially welcomed in the Civic Centre by Robert Donald, a Liberal Democrat Councillor. Hubert Listmann, Chairman of Wormser Kantorei and organiser of the trip expressed thanks for the reception. Ralph Penny, Chairman of St Albans Chamber Choir, echoed similar sentiments during a lively social gathering where everybody enjoyed a delicious buffet. The hosts had organised guided tours of the City and the Cathedral and a day trip to Cambridge and Ely Cathedral. Here the Wormser Kantorei experienced how the English celebrated the Royal Wedding in a Gothic cathedral: with food and drink, souvenir stalls and a huge screen in the Quire showing the beaming Royal Couple, gracefully waving to the crowds, each kiss causing enthusiastic cheer and applause. The key objectives of the week, however, remained the rehearsals and the joint concert in St Albans Abbey.
    The concert was an impressive, in parts exciting, event which began with movements from Alan Rawsthorne’s (1905 – 1971) film music The Cruel Sea played by the St Albans Symphony Orchestra and directed by John Gibbons. In Johannes Brahms’ (1833 – 1897) Song of Destiny Stefan Merkelbach conducted the St Albans Chamber Choir, the Wormser Kantorei and the St Albans Symphony Orchestra. The music is based on a poem by Friedrich Hölderlin (1770 to 1843): the blessed Guiding Spirits, existing in Eternal Light, are set against the fate of the suffering people who have no resting place, are thrashing about, are like water thrown from cliff to cliff, falling into the Unknown. As a work from the late Romantic Period it is intensely powerful, its interpretation was deeply moving.
    After the interval John Gibbonsconducted A Sea Symphony, a work of four movements by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 – 1958). Anna Gorbachyova, a wonderful young soprano and the baritone Toby Stafford-Allen joined the two choirs and the orchestra. The composition unites elements from symphony and oratorio; its text is based on verses by the American poet Walt Whitman. A dramatic brass fanfare opens the first movement dedicated to the “Song for all Seas, all Ships”. The second movement, a Nocturne, conveys “On the Beach at Night, alone” with a great baritone solo. The virtuoso “Scherzo. - The Waves” brings together both choirs and orchestra, depicting the powerful movements of wind and waves and the ships on their routes across the ocean. The final part “The Explorers” reflects on the metaphysical concept of the first two movements. It develops into a breathtaking sound picture with soloists, choirs and orchestra “painting” the “Away”, the hoisting of the anchor, the journey of ships and mariners’ souls into the Unknown, into undefined Time and Space, into Exploration.
    The audience in the rich acoustics of the Cathedral rewarded the St Albans Chamber Choir, Wormser Kantorei and St Albans Symphony Orchestra under their conductor John Gibbons with enthusiastic applause. This was a truly captivating and memorable concert made possible through the concord between the two choirs – St Albans Chamber Choir and Wormser Kantorei - whose friendship is a living example of binding nations through the concept of town twinning.
    Dr REUTER
    Wormser Zeitung May 2011 (Trans. Dorothee Nauth)
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    In Worms in April 2009, celebrating 40 years of friendship and joint music-making
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    A musical bridge
    Important event for the town twinning as 44 guests from St Albans arrive in Worms for a week and to give two concerts
    The St Albans Chamber Choir arrived in Worms, a group of 44 guests, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the choir partnership with the Wormser Kantorei. After their own concert in the Liebfrauen Church, the Chamber Choir will perform together with the Wormser Kantorei in the Trinity Church. In the town hall Mayor Georg Büttler welcomed the 44 British choir members as well as their German hosts. Büttler stressed in his speech the choir partnership between the Chamber Choir and the Wormser Kantorei as one of the pillars in the town twinning Worms and St Albans. The choirs’ partnership has been in existence for 40 years and therefore celebrates a big anniversary this year. The connection between the two choirs has not only generated numerous deep friendships, but also a German / British marriage. Dorothee Nauth from Worms and Michael Bacon from St Albans met in 1991 when the Wormser Kantorei visited St Albans; they are now a married couple and live in Watford near St Albans. Of course they are still active and enthusiastic members of the Chamber Choir and were amongst the guests in the town hall. Mayor Büttler emphasised in his speech Hubert Listmann’s contribution to the town twinning as well as the choirs’ partnership. Later on Büttler talked proudly about the Rhineland – Palatinate Cultural Summer which opens in May in Worms under the title Cool Britannia.
    Gernot Kirch
    Wormser Zeitung, 18 April 2009 [Translation by Dorothee Nauth]
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    Melodies float through space
    St Albans Chamber Choir at the Liebfrauenkirche 15 April 2009
    The partnership between the Wormser Kantorei and the St Albans Chamber Choir, characterised by a lively exchange, has lasted for forty years. On the occasion of the anniversary the English choir has travelled once more to Worms, to engage in combined music-making and to keep up old friendships. Before both choirs give a combined concert this Saturday, the St Albans Chamber Choir gave an impressive performance in the Liebfrauenkirche. As Monsignore Manfred Simon said in his welcoming address, a concert given in the Liebrauenkirche during their stay has become a tradition close to the hearts of the congregation. This time the ensemble presented a cross-section through its many-faceted repertoire, which ranged from the Renaissance until the present day.
    The first piece, Henryk Gorécki’s setting of Totus Tuus, left an extraordinary impression on the listener. The singers began with a powerful forte, then suddenly became so quiet that one almost imagined the sound rather than actually hearing it. The sound rose to a radiant intensity with the repeated cries of Maria, Maria, before ebbing breathlessly away. Jan Sandström’s arrangement of the carol Es ist ein Ros entsprungen proved to be equally fascinating. A semi-chorus of four intoned the chorale at a very measured pace from the far end of the chancel, while the rest of the choir added ethereal chords, which created a peaceful atmosphere despite modern harmonies with occasional grating dissonances.
    Giovanni Palestrina’s Exsultate Deo went at a rather hectic pace, but conductor John Gibbons held his singers together long enough for a sense of the Italian master’s wealth of melodic ideas to come through. This came across even more so with the Ave Virgo Sanctissima from the pen of Francisco Guerrero. The motet drew its life above all from the contrapuntal dialogue between the women’s voices, which here had an especially full sound. Although the beginning of Eric Whitacre’s Lux Aurumque was slightly marred by occasional insecurities of intonation, this work went on to develop into a very worthwhile “listening experience”. The delicate harmonies – so delicate as to appear fragile - seemed to float through the nave. The audience showed its appreciation for the choir and conductor’s notable achievement with standing applause. There was praise for the very varied programme, highlighting the works of less well-known composers.
    Gunter Weigand
    Wormser Zeitung 17 April 2009 [Translation by Abi Kirk]
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    Partnership concert in a packed church
    SACC and WK at the Dreifaltigskeitskirche 18 April 2009
    St Albans Chamber Choir and Wormser Kantorei celebrated their 40th twinning anniversary in a joint concert in Trinity Church led by their conductors John Gibbons and Stefan Merkelbach and supported by the Kurpfalz Philharmonic Orchestra Heidelberg. Of course it was “more” than just a subscription concert. On Saturday evening St Albans Chamber Choir performed in the Trinity Church. The guests from Great Britain had gladly accepted the Worms invitation to celebrate – at the same time - the 40th anniversary of the Choir's partnership with the Wormser Kantorei. This partnership was founded in 1969 by Richard Stangroom and Prof. Tobias Ihle. To this extent of course the hosts also joined in as did the Kurpfalz Philharmonic Orchestra Heidelberg to provide the instrumental accompaniment.
    The two conductors took an equal and friendly share in waving the baton on the night. With George Dyson’s In Honour of the City the English guests paid their respects to their capital. Toward the Unknown Region by Ralph Vaughan Williams and a series of songs from Sea Pictures led to the end of the first part of the evening. Marie-Belle Sandis, who for five years has been a member of the Mannheim National Theatre, was the soloist in Elgar’s song cycle Sea Pictures. Her rich and warm alto voice beautifully “painted” the chosen images of In Haven, Sabbath Morning at Sea and The Swimmer.
    After the interval outstanding voices and elated instruments presented – intentionally - a very different concert. Stefan Merkelbach presented texts from the Daumer collection – put to music in the Love Song Waltzes by Brahms followed by Schubert’s Incidental Music Rosamunde – Duchess of Cyprus, based on the marvellously trivial texts by Helmina von Chézy. Spurned when they were first written, today they are basking again in filled concert halls – or churches as it were – to benevolent audiences.
    Rudolf Uhrig
    Nibelungen Kurier, 22 April 2009 (Translation by Dorothee Nauth)

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