Programme - Hitchin Thespians

Programme - Hitchin Thespians



Wedding Feast

including works by F.J.Haydn,

G.B. Pergolesi and W.A. Mozart

Musical Director

Alan Childs


Robert Day


Kevin Vockerodt

April 17th, 2010

Christchurch, Bedford Road, Hitchin

Hitchin Thespians is a registered charity. Number 1005332


1. ‘Magnificat’ – G. B. Pergolesi (1710-1736)

Soloists: Jane Homer - Soprano; Lucy Miller-White - Alto; Richard

Cowling - Tenor; Michael Steele - Bass.

To celebrate the 300 th anniversary of the birth of Pergolesi we begin

tonight’s concert with a performance of his ‘Magnificat’. Pergolesi’s life

and the history of his ‘Magnificat’ remain a mystery. He was born in

Ancona and studied with Durante and Feo the leading composers in the

Neapolitan School founded by Alessandro Scarlatti. Pergolesi became an

accomplished organist and composer of Opera Buffa as well as sacred

music. He died tragically early from tuberculosis. Musicologists have

often considered the ‘Magnificat’ to be the work of Francesco Durante

(1684-1755) but there appears to be sufficient evidence to suggest that it

is indeed the work of Pergolesi. The work is divided into 6 short

movements: ‘Magnificat’ (chorus); ‘Et Misericordia’ (soprano and alto

solos with chorus); ‘Deposuit potentes’ (chorus), ‘Suscepit Israel’ (tenor

and bass duet); ‘Sicut Locutus Est’ (chorus) and ‘Sicut erat in principio’

(chorus). The first and last choruses share the same music – a traditional

compositional device reflecting the text ‘as it was in the beginning’ and

both use a theme based on the plainsong Magnificat Tone 1 also used by

Montiverdi in his setting of the same text. The whole work is full of

simple beauty, charm and melodic interest.

2. Three Solo Songs:

a) ‘O Ravishing Delight’ – T. Arne

Soloist : Lucy Miller-White

From the Opera ‘The Judgement of Paris’ (1742), text by Congreve,

music composed by Arne when he was House Composer at Drury Lane,

this arrangement is by William H. Summings.

b) ‘Mad Bess’ – H. Purcell

Soloist: Jane Homer

Realised by Benjamin Britten.

c) ‘O Peace Thou Fairest Child of Heaven’ – T. Arne

Soloist: Sandra Page

From ‘Alfred’, a masque by James Thompson and Daniel Mallet (1740),

this arrangement is by Guy Warwick.

3. ‘Splendente te, Deus’ - W. A. Mozart (1756-1791)

Soloists: Lucy Miller-White - Soprano; Jane Homer – Second Soprano;

James Hamilton - Tenor; Michael Steele - Bass.

Mozart’s life and music needs little introduction. This short motet

contains music originally used to accompany von Gelber’s heroic dram

‘Thamos, König in Āgypten’ and was popular throughout Mozart’s

lifetime. The music being heard tonight was probably commissioned and

written during Mozart’s stay in Vienna from July to September 1773 and

first performed in April 1774. Sometime later the original German text

was replaced by Latin world to form an offertory motet. This version was

published posthumously in 1804. The work for chorus and four soloists is

celebratory in character.

4. ‘Hark, the Echoing Air’ – H. Purcell

Soloist: Sandra Page

Realised by Benjamin Britten

5. ‘Music for a While’ – H. Purcell

Soloist: Lucy Miller-White

An arrangement by the Purcell Society of this aria from the opera

‘Oedipus’, a tragedy by Dryden and Lee first produced in 1678, although

it is believed that this aria was written for the 1692 revival.

6. ‘Te Deum’ - F. J. Haydn (1732-1809)


This magnificent choral drama is three parts was a commission from

Empress Marie Therese, the wife of Franz I of Austria. Haydn was a

frequent visitor to the Imperial palace in Vienna. The Empress had a

good voice; Haydn once accompanied her on a private performance of

the soprano part of ‘The Creation’. The Empress repeatedly used to ask

Haydn for some specially-composed church music, but Prince Esterhazy

was reluctant to allow his famous employee to write for anyone but


Evidently, however, Marie Therese finally got her way – we know not

how! The ‘Te Deum’ was composed around 1799, but its first recorded

performance was not until 1800 at Eisenstadt, the home of the Esterhazy

family, to celebrate Lord Nelson’s (and inevitably, Lady Hamilton’s)

arrival there.

The ‘Te Deum’ is a choral work throughout, without the solo sections that

are heard in Haydn’s masses and other sacred works. Two lengthy

‘Allegro’ passages surround a central ‘Adagio’, effectively making the

work a concerto for chorus and orchestra. For those with a serious

Catholic upbringing, Haydn uses the Gregorian Te Deum plainchant from

the eighth psalm-tone.

The opening theme in the ‘Allegro’, the traditional festive key of C major,

is sung by the chorus in unison. The ‘Adagio’ and ‘Te ergo quaesusmus’

opens with a thunderous unison C and proceeds, mysteriously, in C minor

with the harmonies moving chromatically to stunning, if brief, effect. The

final ‘Allegro’ returns to the same cheerful mood as the first passage,

concluding with a stirring double fugue on the words ‘In te Domine

speravi’. A coda-like section, distinguished by overlapping instrumental

and choral phrases with syncopated rhythms, brings the piece to a

glorious close.

© Aylesbury Choral Society, December 2003.



7. ‘Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast’

S. Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912)


Soloist: Richard Cowling

Accompanist: Robert Day

Born in London, the son of an African father and English mother, Samuel

Coleridge-Taylor began playing the violin and singing in the local church

choir from a young age. By the time he was 15 he had been accepted into

the Royal College of Music, his place there sponsored by the musical

director of Croydon’s Grand Theatre. At the RCM he was taken under the

wing of Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, a stabilizing influence in his

troubled youth – deserted by his father who returned to his native Sierra

Leone and taunted throughout his school days. His problematic life

ended at the age of 37 in 1912 when he collapsed and died unexpectedly.

Coleridge-Taylor was fascinated by Longfellow’s epic poem ‘The Song of

Hiawatha’ setting it to music as a trilogy for solo voices, chorus and

orchestra: ‘Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast’ (1898), ‘The Death of

Minnehaha’ (1899) and ‘Hiawatha’s Departure’ (1900). Longfellow’s

colourful description of the legends of the Red Indian Tribes is equally

matched by Coleridge-Taylor’s charming and exciting music and such

was the popularity if this work during the first half f the 20 th century that

it became the most performed choral piece with the exception of Handel’s



Sopranos : Joanna Chugg, Anna Carter, Chris Fox, Lesley Greasley,

Vivienne Hamilton, Wendy Hazlewood, Jane Homer, Lucy Miller-White,

Sandra Page, Ann Peacock, Melanie Plowman, Sheila Soothill, Roz Ward,

Kate Webb, Jenny Wilson.

Altos: Gillian Clough, Lilian Dixon, Barbara Edney, Helen Hodge, Sheila Mole,

Kay Watts, Natasha Worsley.

Tenors: Fred Ardron, Andrew Carmichael, Richard Cowling, James Hamilton,

Ian Hamilton.

Basses: John Beal, John Edwards, Jack Lardent, Michael Steele.


Choral Manager:

Concert Manager:

Box Office Managers:

Front of House Manager:

Poster Artwork:

Programme Editors:


Rehearsal Pianist:

Sheila Soothill

Andy Johnson

Nick & Nicky Morgan

Vivienne Tadman

Tracey Gwynne

Jane Tunesi & Susan Osbourn

Richard Cobb

Robert Day

Have you enjoyed the concert?

Would you like to be part of the next one?

Hitchin Thespians are looking for new members,

especially tenors and basses.

If you are interested, please contact the Secretary,

Alex Evans –

or ask any member of the choir.


WHAT’S ON 2010

Summer Concert

‘Carmina Burana’ – Carl Orff,

‘Feel the Spirit’ – John Rutter and excerpts

from ‘Mass’ - Leonard Bernstein

Hitchin Girls’ School

17th July 2010

‘The King and I’

Gordon Craig Theatre

12th – 16th October 2010


Tel: 01438 363200


Nick and Nicky Morgan, 43 Bessemer Close, Hitchin, Herts, SG5 1AG

Tel: 01462 641575 e-mail:


For details contact Ann Crook

01462 434181 or

Financially supported by The Arts Council for North Hertfordshire

Hitchin Thespians Web Site

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