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All Ages

Listed by

Robert Howell

St Cecilia is the patron saint of musicians, and as such, numerous composers have written works in her honour. Britten, Gounod, Charpentier, Howells and Mahler have all dedicated works to St Cecilia (among others). The Purcell Cecilian ode "Hail! Bright Cecilia" begins with a rousing orchestral sinfonia employing trumpets and drums as well as strings and woodwind.

There are majestic, powerful choruses and delightful airs for soloists with a variety of instruments such as recorders and oboes. Purcell includes many duets, trios and quartets for the soloists, as well as solo numbers. The ode finishes with a magnificent flourish including a six-part chorus.

Handel's version is perhaps slightly less varied and intricate than Purcell's but nonetheless contains some of Handel's most glorious music. A lively and sprightly overture gives way to a equally spirited chorus which builds to a terrific climax. A very varied accompagnato recitativo for the tenor intersperses the two.

There is an exquisitely beautiful air for soprano extolling "the soft complaining flute" accompanied by recorder, a terrifying tenor air with a sensational chorus to follow about "the trumpet's loud clangour", and a final chorus which inspires the sort of passion befitting the patroness of musicians. The soprano who leads into the final chorus has to sustain a top A for no less than four-and-a-half bars!


Gina Sanders
Dilys Fong
Iain Tetley
Joel Amosa

Director: Robert Howell

Student rush free from 10 mins before performance start. (with ID).

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