Portsmouth Baroque Choir: Restoration Anthems

Saturday 15 October, All Saints Church, Portsmouth

It has been some years since we last sang any music by Purcell, so I thought I would plan a concert of Restoration anthems to include music by Purcell and his contemporaries John Blow and Pelham Humfrey.

Purcell was the foremost English composer of his generation. Our selection includes the well-known anthem Rejoice in the Lord alway, known as the bell anthem because of its opening prelude where the bass part imitates a peal of bells. Also included is They that go down to the sea in ships, written to showcase the bass John Gostling who had an extraordinary range – the opening vocal line descends a full two octaves.

John Blow was organist of Westminster Abbey, notably giving up his position in favour of Purcell and taking it up again on Purcell’s death at the age of only 36.

Pelham Humfrey was a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, and Purcell’s teacher.

The concert features so-called symphony and verse anthems (with string accompaniment, and sections sung by soloists from the choir) and some full anthems. By coincidence, three of these were written for Coronations. String accompaniment is provided by The Consort of Twelve Chamber Ensemble, a single string subset of the main group that we collaborated with in our last concert in Chichester, and who also accompany the symphony anthems.

Malcolm Keeler, MD

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