Preview: Portsmouth Choral Union’s Armistice Anniversary Concert

Ian Schofield writes:

Earlier this year Portsmouth Choral Union gave two performances of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s ‘A Sea Symphony’, one in Germany and the other here in Portsmouth. As part of their commemorative concert to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War, they will perform Vaughan Williams’s rarely heard cantata ‘Dona Nobis Pacem’. For audiences familiar with the pastoral nature of works such as his ‘The Lark Ascending’ and ‘Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis’, this powerful work will demonstrate a much more dramatic side to the composer’s musical personality.

Written in 1936, Dona Nobis Pacem is a plea for peace and refers to then-recent wars and the growing fear of a new one. Its wide-ranging texts are drawn from the Catholic Mass, three poems by Walt Whitman, passages from the Bible and part of a political speech by John Bright – in which he tried to prevent the Crimean War. The work is accompanied by a large orchestra and includes important parts for Soprano and Baritone soloists.

The concert will take place at St. Mary’s Church Portsea on Saturday 17th November. Also in the programme will be Howard Goodall’s ethereal ‘Eternal Light’, the beauty of this modern classic will be enhanced by graceful dance form members of the Giselle Academy.

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