There’s no shortage of joy in this programme – given its title, we’d be short-changing our fans if there were. But you needn’t look far to find more meditative beauty and, here and there, passages of sublime harmony, even verging on melancholy.
Sublime certainly applies to Purcell’s Te Deum laudamus, with its frequent spine-tingling harmonies. The women’s voices soaring and interweaving in the solo passages are a special highlight. Purcell brings the piece to a poignant close with a hopeful “Let me never, never be confounded.”
We then leap forward a couple of centuries to Stanford’s beautiful, concise Three Motets, among the finest examples of his mastery of choral writing.
There follows a complete change of style with Simon Johnson’s Gloria. Premièred in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, in 2014, it features a seven-four time signature and a vigorous fugue. A fun challenge for all singers.
After the interval comes a trio of Tudor anthems – Tallis’s If ye love me, Gibbons’ This is the record of John, and Byrd’s Sing joyfully– each a masterpiece of its kind.
And the finale is another trio of works – this time, spirituals. Gwyneth Walker’s original interpretation of the great classic Steal Away is particularly moving.
See you Saturday 23 November in Exeter College chapel at 1930