Bernstein Chichester Psalms and Mozart Coronation Mass

Saturday, June 30, 2018 - 7:30pm to 9:30pm

Chichester Psalms

Ave verum corpus
Coronation Mass KV 317

This concert will be celebrating the 60th anniversary year of Didcot Choral Society, as well as the 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein occupies an important place in American music as conductor, pianist and composer, a triple career he pursued with flamboyant vigour throughout the five decades of his professional life.

As a composer, Bernstein was best known for his stage musical West Side Story (1957). It was filmed in 1961. He also produced the scores of several other shows for both stage and screen, notably the great Gene Kelly movie On the Town (1949). But he was more than a populist. He produced three powerful symphonies, a sparkling opera on the subject of Voltaire's Candide and a very unconventional Mass, among other works. It is rather misleading to classify his compositions as either popular or serious, since his overall style is both deeply American and very eclectic. It draws on the influences of Stravinsky and - no doubt partly via his teacher Aaron Copland - of traditional and popular sources. In particular it owes much to the song styles of American musicals. Yet most of his large-scale non-theatrical works deal with religious themes and include settings of Biblical or liturgical texts.

The Chichester Psalms were commissioned by the Very Rev Walter Hussey, Dean of Chichester, for the l965 Southern Cathedrals Festival. The work consists of three movements, each an affirmative setting of the original Hebrew text of one complete psalm, together with one or more verses of a second psalm. The piece is always performed in Hebrew (a first for Didcot Choral Society!): Bernstein never sanctioned an English translation.

We will be accompanied by organ and harp for this concert.

St Peter's Church, Newlands Avenue, Didcot