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Bridgwater Choral Society welcome you to their 2016-17 season

posted 22 Aug 2016, 14:20 by Ann Hains
This season, Bridgwater Choral Society are bringing you two very different musical experiences. The first, on 10 December 2016 at St Andrew’s Church, Stogursey (note the venue) is a feast of Beethoven; the second, on 6 May 2017 at St Mary’s Church, Bridgwater is a concert of works by 20th-century British composers. Please make a note of the dates, and be sure to come along to what promise to be two wonderful evenings of choral music.

‘But, my dear Beethoven, what is that you have done?’ This was the reaction of Prince Esterhazy after hearing the first performance of Beethoven’s Mass in C in 1807. Later, the prince wrote to a friend: ‘Beethoven’s mass is unbearably ridiculous’. Posterity would disagree; one critic has written that the Mass in C ‘has a directness and emotional content that the Missa Solemnis sometimes lacks’, and another that it is ‘a long-underrated masterpiece’. It’s up to you to decide who you agree with! The BCS’s Beethoven concert also includes the Prometheus overture, in which Beethoven exploits spectacular instrumental and orchestral effects, and the inspiring Choral Fantasia, which includes a virtuoso piano part; the main theme of the work is a version of the famous ‘Ode to Joy’ theme in the 9th Symphony. 

In complete contrast, the Bridgwater Choral Society’s May 2017 concert celebrates 20th-century British composers. In Arthur Bliss’s Pastoral shepherds and farmers, nymphs and girls celebrate a spring festival in honour of the god Pan. This work, written in 1928 and dedicated to Elgar, marks the moment when Bliss was making the transition from being an innovative, modernist composer to a more traditional and romantic one. Gustav Holst’s Two Psalms (1912) is a setting of 17th-century metrical versions of Psalms 86 and 148. Holst re-works old hymn tunes, and his directness and economy combine with a wide emotional range and warmth of expression. Britten’s St Nicholas (1948) tells the dramatic story of the legendary life of the saint: his birth and childhood, his travels (including a storm at sea), and his good works and miracles – not forgetting the bringing back of life of three boys pickled in brine! Britten's music enhances the drama with striking contrasts in instrumentation, vocal style, and musical textures – and you in the audience can join the choir in two hymns.

So do make a note of our concert dates: Beethoven at St Andrew’s, Stogursey on 10 December 2016, and British composers at St Mary’s, Bridgwater on 6 May 2017. Bridgwater Choral Society look forward to seeing you!