French fancies from St Albans Chamber Choir

John Gibbons

John Gibbons - Credit: Archant

French modern day choral masterpieces are being performed by St Albans Chamber Choir in a concert next Saturday, January 21.

The choir will be presenting works by 20th century French and Swiss composers at the concert entitled The French Connection at St Peter’s Church, St Albans, which starts at 7.30pm.

The centrepiece of the concert is Frank Martin’s Mass for double choir, written between 1922 and 1926 but not performed until 1963 – the composer regarded it as ‘a matter between myself and God’ and did not want to expose it to public scrutiny.

It is nowadays recognised as one of the great masterpieces of unaccompanied choral music with its combination of austere spirituality and joyous exuberance.

The choir will also perform Jean Langlais’ Messe solennelle of 1949 which combines elements of plainsong with dissonant counterpoint and chromatic harmony. Langlais was for many years the organist at St. Clotilde in Paris.


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In addition, the programme includes Olivier Messiaen’s slow-moving meditation for unaccompanied choir O sacrum convivium!, Francis Poulenc’s O magnum mysterium and Carl Rutti’s Nunc dimittis.

The choir will be conducted by their musical director, John Gibbons, and accompanied on the organ by Tom Winpenny, the assistant master of music at St Albans Cathedral, who will also be performing Deuxième Fantaisie pour orgue by Jehan Alain.

Tickets are £15 (£5 for children and full-time students), available in advance by calling 07570 454744, emailing tickets@stalbanschamberchoir.org.uk or online directly here or via a link here.

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