A spokesperson for Dartington Community Choir writes: The Choir is renowned for its high standards of performance despite being an amateur choir and is not afraid to tackle challenging works under the professional direction of its conductor and music director Simon Capet. For its winter season concert, the choir will further demonstrate its diverse choral repertoire as it performs Elgar’s ‘Dream of Gerontius’.
Death, judgement, redemption
Based on the famous poem of Cardinal Newman, ‘The Dream of Gerontius’ follows the journey of a sick old man through death, divine judgement and finally towards redemption. A full-blooded and worldly sinner, the dying Gerontius prays to Mary and other saints for help as he meets his death; afterwards he is tenderly guided by a guardian Angel into a dazzling moment in the Divine Presence; here he gratefully accepts a time in Purgatory to expiate his sins, before reaching heaven.
The music is Wagnerian in style, with the rich, mystical, religious appeal and emotional energy of Parsifal. Like Wagner, Elgar uses musical motifs to portray the central feelings and ideas within the work: a heart-rending expression of anguish and the consciousness of sin, juxtaposed with lyrical passages of tenderness and hope.
‘The best of me’
Coming after the huge success of his ‘Enigma’Variations, Elgar’s ‘Dream of Gerontius’ has also become a much-loved national treasure. “This is the best of me” Elgar wrote.
The choir conducted by Simon Capet will be accompanied by the Dartington Sinfonietta, with Simon Dunbavand (organist). The soloists will be Alison Kettlewell (mezzo soprano), David Webb (tenor) and James Platt (bass).
Dartington Community Choir Winter Concert presents Elgar’s ‘Dream of Gerontius’ on Sunday December 8, 2019 in the Great Hall, Dartington, at 7.30pm Tickets (£19 (unreserved); students & U16s £7.50) are available from Dartington Box Office 01803 847070 or on-line www.dartington.org/whats-on
Spring choral workshop
The choir’s action-packed season continues in the Spring with a choral workshop on Saturday February 29, 2020 at Buckfast Abbey. Tom Seligman, one of the UK’s most exciting conducting talents, will direct the workshop and evening concert in an uplifting programme to include Parry’s ‘I was Glad’, Puccini’s ‘Requiemaeternam’, Mendelssohn’s ‘Six Sayings’, Widor’s ‘Sing!’ and Elgar’s ‘The Spirit of the Lord’.
The choir’s April 2020 concert programme has been designed to resonate with the Mayflower 400 commemorations. Its guest soloist will be the celebrated baritone Roderick Williams OBE, who joins the choir, orchestra and soprano Catherine Hamilton in Vaughan Williams ‘A Sea Symphony’. Set to verses by Walt Whitman it evokes courageous sailors exploring the vast oceans, as a metaphor for the individual soul’s journey through life – much like the Pilgrim Fathers. The programme will also include Stanford’s ‘Songs of the Fleet’, five songs set to the poems of Sir Henry Newbolt, which celebrate the sea and the profound demands it makes on those who confront it with their hopes.
For more information about the choir and its activities, visit www.dartington-community-choir.co.uk
Philip R Buttall
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