Petersfield Music Festival 2020: preview of the Choral Concerts


Two contrasting concerts provide the choral centrepiece of this year’s Petersfield Musical Festival on consecutive Saturdays – 14th and 21st March.

On 14th March the Music of Praise concert features three 20th century works. The Festival Chorus, Highfield Chapel Choir and Southern Pro Musica under the baton of Paul Spicer start with Richard Blackford’s Mirror of Perfection, which sets seven inspirational poems by St Francis of Assisi covering a wide range of emotion from hope to despair, love to bitterness and delight in Creation to an impassioned plea for peace amongst mankind. The use of a children’s choir is particularly poignant.

The same concert features Andrew Carter’s Benedicite, a canticle in praise of all creation, inspired by the new carvings in York Minster after it had been damaged in 1984 by lightning. The work is scored for SATB choir, a children’s choir and orchestra plus organ, harp and percussion. The work is in eleven movements, each individually structured to reflect the meaning of the text. Three movements set Carter’s own words, including ‘Badgers and Hedgehogs’ – probably unique in musical literature!

Dag Wirén’s popular Serenade for Strings completes the programme.

The Saturday 21st March concert features Vivaldi’s much-loved Dixit Dominus, Bach’s 2nd Brandenburg Concerto and Haydn’s Mariazellermesse. All three 18th century masterworks exude musical imagination and joie de vivre.

The concert showcases Fernhurst and Petersfield Choral Societies and SouthDowns Camerata and is conducted by Paul Spicer with some well-known vocal and instrumental soloists.

Vivaldi splits his forces into two for the setting of Psalm 110 (Dixit Dominus) and makes use of the antiphonal effects which result. There are two four-part choruses, each with its own orchestral accompaniment, together with four soloists.

Bach’s Brandenburg No.2 was written as part of a set of concerti grossi presented in 1721 by the composer to the Margrave of Brandenburg, rightly considered one of the composer’s greatest masterpieces. This concerto uses four contrasting solo instrumentalists: violin, recorder, oboe and trumpet. The trumpets soloist, Lucy Humphris, was educated at Churcher’s College and is a highly regarded young musician.

The Mariazellermesse dates from 1782 and is a fresh and adventurous work. Whatever Haydn lacks in harmonic originality is made up for by enormous vitality and individuality.

Pictured: Catriona Hewitson and Morgan Pearse (14 March)

Event Search