Rare Dvorak Requiem gets a St Cecilia Society airing

Alex Flood

Alex Flood - Credit: Archant

When Alex Flood raises his baton to conduct Dvorak’s Requiem in St Albans Cathedral it will be 125 years to the day since the Czech composer completed the orchestration of one of his least-familiar masterpieces.

Premiered a year later the work displayed the combination of drama, lyricism and memorable tunes that are a hallmark of Dvorak’s most celebrated music.

Yet after immediate success with English and continental audiences, performances of his setting of the mass for the dead became relatively rare.

St Albans St Cecilia Society has chosen the Requiem for it’s biennial concert in the cathedral next Saturday, October 31, and is hoping to win it new friends.

Alex Flood, regular conductor of Radlett Choral Society, will be performing the work with fellow singers from Harpenden’s Hardynge Choir and the St Albans Chamber Choir accompanied by the St Albans Symphony Orchestra.

He said “Anyone who knows Dvorak’s famous compositions like the New World Symphony and the ‘Cello Concerto, can be sure of hearing music that is heartfelt and approachable, but also written with consummate skill. Like me, they may wonder why so impressive a work is not better known.”

The Requiem starts with a powerful depiction of the terror and fury of the Last Judgement leading to a second part where the emphasis is on consolation for the bereaved, peace, and the joy of eternal light.

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The four high-profile featured soloists are soprano Geraldine McGreevy, mezzo-soprano Clare McCaldin, tenor Mark Wilde and bass Jeremy White who hails from St Albans.

Tickets at £25, £20, £15 and £10 are available from the Cathedral box office online (www.stalbanscathedral.org/whatson/music) or by telephone (01727 890290).

There will be a retiring collection after the concert in aid of both Rennie Grove and Keech Hospice Care.