Details of our 50th Anniversary Concert in Kendal Parish Church on June 15th 2019

Website info. for 50th anniversary
15 June, Kendal Parish Church
For our 50th anniversary concert in June we have chosen to perform three works: Alessandro Striggio’s 40-part motet Ecce beatam lucem, Henry Purcell’s Birthday Ode ‘Come Ye Sons of Arts’ and Francisco Valls Missa Scala Aretina.
Striggio’s celebratory motet was composed in 1561 for the reception of a high-powered papal embassy to the French court making a stopover in Florence and the work in forty parts, was clearly designed to make an impression on the visitors who were treated to a visual and musical spectacle as they entered the Duomo in Florence. Three-quarters of the way down the cathedral’s nave, the guests were invited to kneel – and the heavens opened. Painted cloud shutters above the easternmost bay drew back, and light flooded down as four great cloud machines descended, bearing forty or more masked and costumed musicians. Coming to rest, the clouds formed a spectacular tableau and Striggio’s motet began.
The cloud-borne tableau mirrored the celestial vision of the poem chosen for this event. Above sat the Trinity, enthroned in a starry heaven within the vault; below them were arranged saints, patriarchs and prophets, with pride of place given to a harp-bearing King David, ancestor and Old-testament ‘type’ of Christ: David and Christ, precursor and fulfilment are celebrated in the motet’s central passaage in which all forty voice parts to overwhelming effect. The music was on a then-unexampled scale, but in a long tradition of multi-voice, as distinct from multi-choir, settings. The forty parts (originally divided among solo voices and instruments) form endlessly varied groupings and unite in heady washes of massed sound. Sadly, we cannot replicate the visual effect on 15 June. All our singers will have their feet firmly planted on the ground! and all 40 parts will be sung with just an organ as instrumental support.
Henry Purcell’s Ode ‘Come Ye Sons of Arts’ was written to celebrate the birthday of Queen Mary on 30 April 1694 at the royal court in London. Often described as the finest of Purcell’s birthday odes, today it is one of his most popular and most frequently performed works, probably because of its infectious tunes and joyful music. It seems an ideal choice for a 50th anniversary, containing solo and ensemble music for all four of our soloists and lively choruses.
Francisco Valls’ Missa Scala Aretina is the composer’s best-known work. Valls was born around 1672 and wrote the mass for performance in Barcelona Cathedral where he was appointed maestro de capilla in 1696. The work takes its name from the hexachord, the 6-note scale first established as a basis for composition and the development of a method of sight-singing by the 10th century monk Guido d’Arezzo. The scale, in its upward or downward movement, can be clearly heard throughout the work being particularly prominent in the opening and closing movements. It is such a simple device but Valls uses it to crate a monumental work and one of great beauty.
The mass is scored for four choirs. The first choir consists of a group of three solo voices; the second choir is a semichorus (three voices per part in tonight’s performance); the third choir is for “the bulk of the chapel” and the fourth choir is an instrumental group of two violins and cello, two oboes and two trumpets The second and third choirs are each supported by an organ, while the singers of choir one have a harp as their accompanying continuo instrument. The work demonstrates a wide variety of emotional states reflecting the range of emotions found in the traditional text. As originally performed, the choral groups would probably have been on different levels: the second and third choirs would have been high up in two opposing organ lofts, while the solo choir and instrumental choir would have been on ground level. Spatial separation is essential for a successful performance of the work, and Valls makes full use of the possibilities offered by contrasting groups of different sizes and timbres, sometimes tossing the same thematic material back and forth, at other times combining all four choirs into a sonorous whole.

We have assembled a fine team of soloist for this concert and are particularly pleased to welcome back our President, Evelyn Tubb. Evelyn has enjoyed a long and successful international career as a soloist, consort singer (Consort of Musicke) and teacher (Schola Cantorum in Basel). She is joined by countertenor, Iestyn Morris, tenor Samuel Jenkins and bas/baritone Jonathan Millican. An orchestra of professional baroque instrumentalists accompanies the choir in what we hope will be a joyous evening.
Admission to the concert, which commences at 7.30, is by programme (£15). These can purchased from Northern Light Stained Glass, Blackhall Yard, Kendal. Phone reservations can be made by phoning 01539 723482.

Future concerts
Autumn Serenade, Saturday, 12 October in St Mark’s Church, Natland.
Programme to include: ‘Called back to Paradise’. First complete performance of a new work by Adrian Self with words by Pam Self which the choir asked Adrian to write for this 50th year.
‘The Song of the Silent Child’. A new work by our director, Clive Walkley, with words by Lucy Crispin.

Christmas Concert, Sunday, 15 December in St Mark’s Church, Natland.
Programme to include Vaughan Williams ‘Fantasia on Christmas Carols’.

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Pro Nobis Singers.

The choir was founded by its conductor, Clive Walkley, when he first moved to Cumbria in 1968 to take up a post as Lecturer in Music at the then Charlotte Mason College in Ambleside. From a small beginning, when a group of friends met together informally in one another’s homes to sing madrigals, the choir now gives regular public concerts and numbers approximately thirty singers; although Kendal-based, it draws its membership from a wide area.

Known particularly for their performances of music from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, the singers have a strong commitment to contemporary music. They have commissioned new works and frequently include works by local composers in their programmes. For this anniversary year, Cumbrian composer Adrian Self has kindly written four short pieces to be performed later in the year and the young composer Toby Young has written a new work to be premiered at the choir’s 7th April afternoon concert in Holy Trinity & St George Catholic Church, Kendal.

Over a fifty year period, the choir has worked with some distinguished professional musicians and is fortunate to have the renowned early music soloist and consort singer, Evelyn Tubb, as its President. Evelyn will be making a return visit to Kendal to sing with the choir in Kendal Parish Church on 15th June. The choir has also enjoyed a close relationship with Lake District Summer Music, having given many recitals during the annual August LDSM festival.

In addition to the performance of Toby Young’s new work on 7th April, the singers will be performing Scarlatti’s wonderful ten-part Stabat Mater and music for Passiontide. The programme for 15th June opens with Alessandro Striggio’s 40-part motet Ecce beatam lucem when the choir will be joined by additional voices. Following this comes Purcell’s ‘Come ye Son’s of Art’ and finally Francisco Valls Missa Scala Aretina for four choirs of voices and instruments. This is a beautiful, little-known but quite monumental work which the choir last performed ten years ago. Tickets for both these concert will be on sale from Northern Lights Stained Glass, Blackhall Yard, Kendal; further details are available on the choir’s website