Telemann composed his Magnificat in C around 1705, probably while he was still in Leipzig.
He had enrolled at Leipzig University to read Law, but was very active musically, becoming thoroughly embedded in the musical life of the city. Indeed, he became so dominant a figure that he seriously trod on the toes of Johann Kuhnau, J.S. Bach’s predecessor at the Thomaskirche.
It was customary in Leipzig when performing the Magnificat as part of a service that congregational hymns would be inserted between movements. In line with this tradition, in this performance there will be appropriate Christmas carols included for the audience to join in.
Cathy Bell studied English and Medieval Literature at Cambridge and singing as a postgraduate at Birmingham Conservatoire. She is a former CREAR Scholar and was a member of the Handel House Talent Scheme 2014-15. Baroque music continues to be a particular specialism: in the current season she has made solo debuts at the Valletta International Baroque Festival as Venus in Pepusch Venus and Adonis, and at the Barbican as Second Witch in Purcell Dido and Aeneas with the Academy of Ancient Music.
Cathy particularly enjoys her work as an oratorio and concert soloist, with recent highlights including Bach Mass in B minor with Cantemus at Dora Stoutzker Hall in Cardiff; Bach St John Passion with Leicester Bach Choir; Vivaldi Gloria at Bath Abbey; A. Scarlatti Salve regina at Wells Cathedral; Vivaldi Introduzione e Gloria for Montgomeryshire County Music Festival; Handel Messiah at Cadogan Hall and St Martin-in-the-Fields; CPE Bach Magnificat with Nottingham Harmonic Choir; Mendelssohn Elijah with the Bach Choir at the Royal Festival Hall; Rachmaninov Vespers at the St Magnus International Festival in Orkney and with several groups including Britten Sinfonia, Wimbledon Choral Society and the Oxford Bach Choir; and several London recitals of baroque music at the Handel House and the Wallace Collection.
Opera roles include a reprisal of Second Witch (Purcell Dido and Aeneas) in Norway this summer; Carmen for Barefoot Opera; Arsamenes (Handel Xerxes) for Hampstead Garden Opera; Russian Nanny (Britten Death in Venice) for Garsington Opera; Third Lady/Third Boy (Mozart Die Zauberflöte) for Diva Opera and the Palestine Mozart Festival; Arasse (Hasse Siroe) for the London Handel Festival; and roles in contemporary operas for Tête à Tête, Grimeborn and WNO MAX. Chorus work includes Scottish Opera, Garsington, Grange Park, Bergen Nasjonale Opera and the festivals in Aix-en-Provence and Beijing.
Cathy also works regularly with groups including the BBC Singers, the Academy of Ancient Music, Philharmonia Voices, Sonoro, the Dunedin Consort, the Clerks’ Group and EXAUDI, and sings for film and video game recording sessions with London Voices, RSVP Voices and the Pinewood Singers. She lives in London with her husband Jon Stainsby, also a singer, and their daughter Rosie, born in 2016.
Memorable performances as a soloist extend to a wide range of repertoire, including staged versions of the St. John and St. Matthew Passions for English Touring Opera, Tavener’s Veil of the Temple at Canterbury Cathedral (in the presence of the composer), Vaughan Williams Sea Symphony, Beethoven 9, Poulenc Gloria, Will Todd’s Mass in Blue and Mozart’s C Minor Mass. Susanna has also appeared numerous times for the BBC: highlights include being interviewed in 2017 on Radio 3’s In Tune by Clemency Burton-Hill, and appearing on the soundtracks for two BBC dramas with music by Solomon Grey. She makes her Three Choirs Festival debut in Gloucester this year in Israel in Egypt.
Operatic highlights include Galatea Acis and Galatea for Opera Theatre Company; Countess Le nozze di Figaro for Longborough Festival Opera; cover Donna Anna Don Giovanni for Opera North; and for English Touring Opera: Donna Anna Don Giovanni, Juno La Calisto, and Eleonora Il furioso.
Having spent part of her childhood in Africa, Susanna has continued to enjoy living and working in many different parts of the world, as far as India and Brunei. From scuba diving to rock climbing, rowing or playing rugby at college, undertaking vegetarian cooking lessons with a 95-year-old matriarch in Mumbai or embracing veganism, life has been a fascinating journey so far. Exotic episodes aside however, Susanna believes there’s still nothing better than a long walk by the river followed by a pint of local ale!
Born in Bath, tenor Tom Raskin studied at the RNCM in Manchester and New College, Oxford, before going on to become a Britten-Pears Young Artist. In 2000 he was awarded the Anne Ziegler Prize, followed by the Freckleton Prize in 2001, and was the recipient of a major Scholarship from the Peter Moores Foundation which funded study both in Italy and London.
Recent concert work includes the Verdi Requiem, Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, Calaf in Turandot (concert performance), Stainer’s Crucifixion in Norway, Rossini’s Stabat Mater, broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 from King’s College, Cambridge, and arias in the St John and St Matthew Passions (Norwich Cathedral).
Tom is one of the four tenors in the BBC Singers, and besides the vast range of choral works that he performs with them, has sung a wide range of solos, from Streshnev in Mussorgsky’s Kovanshchina at the 2017 Proms to the St Matthew Passion arias and Christmas Oratorio arias, to Bernstein’s Hashkiveinu, to Jason Donovan’s half of the duet “Especially for you.” He is much in demand on the concert platform in Britain and abroad, in places as far-flung as Novosibirsk in Siberia to St Mark’s Basilica, Venice. He has performed with orchestras including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, the CBSO, The Sixteen and English Baroque Soloists.
He also has a large operatic repertoire from the baroque to the present day; he recently sang the Cockerel in Stravinsky’s Renard with the BCMG in one of Oliver Knussen’s last appearances on the concert platform, and he recorded the role of Signor Ravioli in Alfred Cellier’s The Mountebanks with the BBCCO. He gave the world premiere of Lord Fitztollemache in Weinberg’s Lady Magnesia, and has sung for Glyndebourne, Garsington, Opera South, Opera East and the Iford Festival. He has made regular appearances with New Chamber Opera.
In 2017 and 2018 Tom gave several recitals with the pianist Christopher Weston; a mini-tour of Schubert’s Winterreise, and Finizi’s Till Earth Outwears. More recitals are planned in 2019, including one in All Saints’ Church, West Dulwich, and a Vaughan Williams celebration in Thaxted.
Julian studied at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama with Adrian Thompson and at the Royal College of Music with Ryland Davies, followed by private tuition with Nicholas Powell. He is the recipient of major awards from the Wingate Foundation, English Speaking Union, Musicians Benevolent Fund, Royal Society of Musicians, Josephine Baker, Countess of Munster and Benslow Music Trusts and was also a finalist in the Schubert Society of London, London Song Festival, John Warner Memorial Award, the Hampshire National Singing Competitions and was highly commended by the Wagner Society of London as having ‘a powerful, attractive sound with a great deal of vocal colour’.
Engagements in the current season include the roles of Colline La Boheme and Talbot Maria Stuarda for OperaUpClose, a gala concert of opera arias at St Martin-in-the-Fields, a recital of Vivaldi bass arias with the Holland Park at Our Lady of Victories Kensington, Mass in C Beethoven with the Derby Choral Union, Catantas 21 & 29 J. S. Bach with the Birmingham Bach Choir, Nelson Mass Haydn with St James’ Spanish Place and The Messiah Handel with the Purcell Orchestra at St Mary Abbots Kensington.
In the 2017-18 season Julian sang the Oracle of Neptune in Idomeneo Mozart for Buxton Festival Opera; Sarastro in The Magic Flute Mozart for OperaUpClose and Charles Court Opera; Zaretsky in Eugene Onegin Tchaikovsky at the Arcola Theatre; Jeptha Handel with the Hull Bach Choir; the title role in Elijah Mendelssohn for the Dulwich Choral Society; Johannes-Passion J. S. Bach with the Purcell Orchestra; Cantatas 21 & 29 J. S. Bach with the Birmingham Bach Choir; Maria Theresa Mass Haydn with the Grimsby Choral Society; 2001: Le Chant des Enfants des Etoiles Chin with the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall.
In previous years Julian has also performed roles for Iford Arts Festival, Opera Project, Diva Opera, Salmiya Opera Theatre Kuwait, OperaUpClose, Tete-a-Tete Opera and Pop-Up Opera.
In his free time Julian enjoys hiking, running, playing football, squash and table tennis and is also a passionate consumer of cake, coffee, cheese, wine, stout and porter. Julian lives with his wife and daughter in South London, the latter of whom he is greatly enjoying introducing to the great historical recordings of his favourite opera singers.
Thank you, Richard and all involved with the Stour Singers, for putting on such a fabulous concert last Saturday. What a wonderful performance. It makes us all realise how fortunate we are to have such talent both locally and accessible to the Town. We are truly privileged.
The Shipston Stour Singers under their creative musical director, Richard Emms, gave us a night out to remember at St. Edmund’s Church, Shipston on Stour on the 12th May. They were beautifully accompanied by the talented Queen’s Park Sinfonia chamber orchestra of young graduate musicians who, with professional skill, put their heart and soul into the performance. The choir’s own musically sensitive Rachel Bird was on keyboard.
Richard had chosen a challenging and exciting programme, in terms of contrast for both choir and audience, with the Rutter Magnificat followed by the Fauré Requiem: a vividly joyous and celebratory work by Rutter and the all-time favourite Fauré with its core serenity and sublime tenderness. Both these works required a great deal from the interwoven voices of the choir in terms of dynamic control and timing. In my view and according to audience response they succeeded magnificently with a full bodied performance of the Magnificat, which one person described to me as the popping of champagne corks, bubbling with vivacity. To follow this with the quietly controlled and sustained vocal demands of the Requiem was difficult but this generally mature choir managed to achieve that intrinsic sweetness and clarity of young voices the work really needs.
But neither work could have succeeded so well without the lovely professional voices of the soloists, Soprano, Ruth Holton and last minute replacement baritone, Andrew Mayor. Ruth, in a varied career has developed a huge repertoire ranging from music of the Middle Ages to the Contemporary. Her voice has a ringing, bell-like clarity, a really pure sound with which she brought a gentle flow to Rutter’s Et misericordia and in the Requiem’s Pie Jesu a spiritual purity which brought a lump to the throat. And from my point of view I found the Italianesque operatic approach of Andrew Mayor to the Fauré distinctly appropriate and very moving. He also brought a strength and richness to the Requiem’s Libera Me, in its supplication to the Lord to be delivered from everlasting death.
The two profoundly religious works are to my mind about love and one would assume it was an over-riding love of God in the world and for life which inspired both Rutter and Fauré and even perhaps, under the mystical power of music for one evening, the capacity audience at St. Edmund’s.
In 1791, during Haydn’s first triumphant visit to London, he attended the annual Handel Festival in Westminster Abbey. The tradition at the time was to perform Handel’s oratorios with as many as 1,000 performers, and that year Israel in Egypt and Messiah made a huge impact on Haydn. He resolved to compose something similar himself, particularly inspired by the vivid musical pictures in Israel in Egypt.
Initially a suitable libretto did not materialise, but four years later, just as he was leaving London for home for the second time, he was given a libretto, The Creation of the World, based on Genesis as it appears in the King James Bible, and on Milton’s Paradise Lost.
When Haydn arrived back in Austria he had the libretto translated into German by that great musical connoisseur and pillar of Viennese society, Baron Gottfried van Swieten. Then he got to work on what would be one of his final masterpieces. It took him more than a year to complete and left him ill with exhaustion. But at the first performance, before a private audience of the great and good, the listeners were so completely bowled over by the musical picture of the creation of Light that the performance had to stop while they recovered. The Creation proved to be an instant huge success, too, with the wider public.
In fact, Haydn had decided to publish The Creation in both German and English, making it probably the first bilingual musical composition. He also published and distributed it himself, with the aid of subscriptions, which proved to be very lucrative. Also, he conducted many lavish charity performances raising huge sums for the Tonkünstlersocietät, a charity supporting widows and orphans of musicians, very much in the vein of his inspiration, Handel, in his support for the Foundling Hospital in London.