The three cathedral choirs from Norwich, Ely and Peterborough will be giving their first joint concert for more than 25 years in Norwich Cathedral as part of this year’s Norfolk & Norwich Festival on Thursday (24 May).
The concert celebrates three of this year’s centenaries, the birth of Leonard Bernstein, the death of Hubert Parry and the founding of the Choir Schools’ Association. It also includes the world première of a work by Alex Woolf, still in his early twenties.
American composer Leonard Bernstein is perhaps best known for West Side Story. The three choirs will start their concert with Bernstein’s highly acclaimed Chichester Psalms.
Hubert Parry, the English composer who gave us Jerusalem, died on 7 October 1918 and the programme features two of his anthems including I Was Glad – one of the most rousing and popular anthems of all time. Vaughn Williams, Holst and Ireland, all pupils of Parry, are also included in the programme.
The concert features choristers from three members of the Choir Schools’ Association (CSA), formed by the headmasters of St Paul’s Cathedral School, Westminster Abbey Choir School and King’s College School, Cambridge to save choir schools from new government regulations governing the employment of children about to be introduced by the Fisher Education Act.
Fortunately, cathedral choristers were excluded from the legislation and the three founding schools were quickly joined by schools all over the country including King’s School Ely, King’s School Peterborough and Norwich School. The Association’s Centenary celebrations were launched earlier this month with a Special Evensong in St Paul’s Cathedral and Thursday’s concert is part of a number of collaborations around the country until the end of the year.
Steffan Griffiths, Head Master of Norwich School says: “We are thrilled that the Three Choirs tradition has been revived in the East of England to celebrate this trio of anniversaries. It promises to be a wonderful concert, with a stimulating programme in the inspirational setting of Norwich Cathedral that shows off the best of the English choral tradition. It will also serve to remind us all how music is uniquely placed to bring people together, whether performers or audience.”
Concert goers will be the first to hear a special commission for the Norfolk & Norwich Festival by Alex Woolf, who was BBC Young Composer of the Year in 2012. Alex was a music scholar at St John’s College, Cambridge and recent compositions include a new flute work for James Galway which was commissioned by Classic FM and The Royal Philharmonic Society.
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