RUTTER: The Gift of Life; CHILCOTT: A Little Jazz Mass; VAUGHAN WILLIAMS: Five Mystical Songs

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Saturday 16 May 2020, 7.30pm
Chester Cathedral
A Choir Concert. Tickets: £15

Note: side aisle seating will not be available for this concert

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Damian O’Keeffe baritone
Graham Eccles organ and piano
Liverpool Sinfonia Chamber Ensemble
Chester Music Society Choir
Graham Jordan Ellis conductor

The Five Mystical Songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams sets four poems by seventeenth-century Welsh-born poet and priest George Herbert from his 1633 collection The Temple: Sacred Poems. The work received its first performance on 14 September 1911, at the Three Choirs Festival in Worcester.
Like Herbert's simple verse, the songs are fairly direct, but have the same intrinsic spirituality as the original text. The first four songs are quiet personal meditations in which the soloist takes a key role, particularly in the third – Love Bade Me Welcome, where the chorus has a wholly supporting role. The final "Antiphon" is probably the most different: a triumphant hymn of praise that is also sometimes performed on its own, as a church anthem: "Let all the world in every corner sing".
Bob Chilcott's wonderful setting of the Latin Missa Brevis, A Little Jazz Mass, was composed for the 2004 Crescent City Choral Festival, New Orleans.  It says much for Chilcott’s skill that he has successfully brought together two very diverse traditions - the Latin mass and the jazz idiom - in such an expressive and entirely unforced way, an achievement that has generally eluded other composers who have tried something similar.
John Rutter’s long-awaited new major work The Gift of Life is a six-movement choral celebration of the living earth, of creation, and of life itself, offering a kaleidoscope of moods from contemplative and prayerful to majestic and inspirational. The work premiered in Cambridge in April 2016.  
Rutter sets his own words in a tender reminder that the gift of each day is precious, and that we have within us the power to find new possibilities and bring new hope of peace to our world.