Seaton Choral Society set to perform in Christmas concert

PUBLISHED: 17:00 30 November 2017

Seaton Choral Society in action

Seaton Choral Society in action


Seaton Choral Society will present a splendidly varied programme this year for its Christmas concert at Seaton’s Gateway.

The title ‘Christmas Cheer Year by Year’ suggests some time travelling; the first piece to be heard will be a beautiful fourteenth century two-part song, ‘Blessed be thou, heaven’s Queen’, conjuring up a time of austerity perhaps, rather than the bacchanalian feasting of modern times !

Items by Orlando Gibbons, Mozart, Elgar and the seventeenth century French composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier follow, forming the first half of the evening.

Charpentier had the misfortune to be working in Paris at the time when the notoriously jealous and scheming Jean-Baptiste Lully was holding musical sway at Versailles for Louis XIV.

Lully dictated the rules of musical practice, the number of musicians allowed for certain occasions, and generally made life insufferable for his peers.

Nevertheless, Charpentier’s talent, and the fact that he had a sympathetic employer in the person of the Duchesse de Guise, enabled him to write, successfully and over a long period, a wealth of both church and stage music in spite of Lully’s antagonism.

In his sparkling ‘Messe de Minuit’ – Midnight Mass – he originated the idea of adapting a number of folk carols to fit various parts of the Mass, and then composing new material to bind the work together.

The result is a delightful piece which combines the elegance and sprightliness of France with the grace and warmth of Italy, the latter quality gained from the composer’s earlier study in Rome with Carissimi .

The second half of the concert begins with two great Bach chorales and continues with a collection of well-known carols including ‘A Great and Mighty Wonder’, ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ and roars to a snowy conclusion with ‘Jingle Bells’ and the triumphant Handel tune ‘Joy to the World’.

Musical Director Ian Crew will conduct, while accompanying will be a small ensemble of recorder, oboe, violin, cello and chamber organ.

The performance will be on Sunday, December 10, at 4pm (doors open 3.30pm) at The Gateway, Fore Street, Seaton. Tickets £10 in advance (under 18s free) from The Gateway Box Office (Tel: 01297 625699) or £12 on the door.

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