New Year choir concert features 'new traditions' in music

To celebrate the New Year, on the 20th January 2019 at the Igreja Matriz in São Brás the Coro dos Amigos will perform a musically and historically fascinating programme of sacred  music spanning the centuries and featuring the Magnificat of Thomas Attwood Walmisley.  

According to the notes on the Hyperion recording of the piece, Walmisley was greatly responsible for raising the tradition of English church music "out of the mire into which it had sunk earlier in the 19th century".  

The Magnificat is generally regarded as Walmisley's finest composition, noted for its "adventurous harmonic language" and the brilliance of the organ sections - Walmisley himself was joint organist at both Trinity and St John's Colleges, Cambridge.

The choir will also perform a composition by the 16th century genius Thomas Tallis.  Tallis is probably best known for the magnificent 40-voice Spem in Allium, but the piece the choir will perform, If Ye Love Me, is one of his most most lyrical compositions.  It could be said that Tallis, like Walmisley, was also responsible for a major change in church music.   When England's church changed from Catholic to Protestant, composers were required to write in English, not Latin, and to give each word its own note, rather than the established mode of holding one word over a whole range of notes.  Tallis was undeniably the finest writer of that age, and If Ye Love Me, one of his most popular pieces, shows just how beautiful that new simplicity could be.  Its most famous recent performance was at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Coming up to the 19th century is Verleih Uns Frieden, the words of which were written by Martin Luther and set to music, centuries later, by Felix Mendelssohn, one of the finest of the Romantic composers.

 

PAST EVENTS

Saturday, December 8th and Sunday, December 16th 

The Choir of the Friends of the Museum of Sao Bras will hold its annual carol concert on Saturday, December 8th at 18.00 in the museum's New Gallery in Sao Bras.

We shall be performing some, mostly well known, Christmas Carols from Portugal, UK and Germany followed by a short break after which we invite you, the audience, to join us in singing some even more familiar carols. The bar will be open before the start and during the break.

There will be an entrance fee of 5 Euros.

We will hold a second concert in Vilamoura Church on Sunday, December 16th at 18.00 which will be free.

 

Saturday 16th June. Museu de Traje, São Brás.

Other dates to be announced.

In the years since its foundation, the choir has largely concentrated on two types of music. We have performed a great many religious pieces large and small, including Vivaldi´s ´Gloria´ , a Haydn Mass and two versions of Ave Verum Corpus. Our second main area of interest has been in madrigals and songs from the Renaissance and Baroque eras. More recently, a number of more modern pieces have been included, and the programme has become more balanced between the religious and the secular. 

Now, in 2018, we have quite a major departure from our past practice. The theme of the Commonwealth has been chosen at least in part to coincide with the Commonwealth Games, which will have been held by the time our concert takes place in June. The songs we are rehearsing are all from the modern era, and were written by composers and lyricists from a number of Commonwealth countries. Programme notes will be available on the site soon.

It may seem odd that an international choir composed of European citizens should be adopting this particular theme, but it is appropriate for at least two reasons. Like the European Union, the Commonwealth is an attempt to bring (or keep) together a disparate group of nations for mutual benefit. Both of these institutions are far from perfect, but they demonstrate at best the willingness of different peoples to come together on various levels to help promote understanding, peace and common prosperity. Having recognised this similarity, we have to record that sadly, both institutions are in difficulty at the present time. The Commonwealth contains countries that find it difficult to live peacefully together, and some Commonwealth nations are led by somewhat unsavoury people. The EU faces increasing challenges to its centrifugal tendencies, as we are all too well aware, and a rising tide of nationalism threatens to tear down what the leaders of the post-war era dreamed of creating.

So it is right that we try to celebrate in music one of the great political concepts of the 20th Century, to remind ourselves of the things that unite us rather than those which tend to divide.