Back to the Future

Conductor: Matthew Greenall. The choir’s founder returns to the podium after an eight year absence to direct an all-twenty-first century programme


 

Gabriel Jackson: A prayer of King Henry VI
Arvo Pärt: Littlemore Tractus
Judith Weir: Vertue
Gabriel Jackson: Edinburgh Mass
Judith Weir: A true blue dream of sky
Gabriel Jackson: Laudate Pueri (London Premiere)
Arvo Pärt: Berliner Mass
 

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This programme is focused on new work from the first eight years of our century by three of the most inspiring composers of choral music writing today.

Arvo Pärt (b. 1935) is an iconic figure, known to audiences world-wide for a unique approach to composition that marries influences from medieval Europe, a deep, almost mystic sensibility to text and a radical simplicity. Berliner Messe is one of two Pärt settings of the mass that are suitable for either liturgical or concert performance. Although a first version dates from as early as 1990, this latest for voices and organ is from 2002 and is amongst Pärt’s most striking and approachable works of recent years. The monumental, Bachian Newman setting Littlemore Tractus of 2000 is also typical of Pärt’s powerful originality.

Judith Weir (b. 1954) is one of the UK’s leading composers, with outstanding contributions in nearly every genre including a body of choral work notable for the warmth, sensitivity and humanity of its choices both in text and use of voice. Her choral cycle Vertue (2005) returns to the work of a favourite poet, George Herbert, who she also set in Two Human Hymns (1996).

Gabriel Jackson (b.1962) is now established as one of this country’s leading composers of choral music. Although he describes himself as ‘religious by temperament rather than belief’, Jackson’s work draws church music from the 15th century Eton Choirbook to the 21st century into a unique, personal synthesis, at once contemplative, dramatic and ecstatic. Laudate Pueri, a joyous, virtuosic cantata for soprano and organ, will be receiving its London premiere.

  • "A fascinating programme, full of...
    unexpected modulations and intensity...to which Laughton and the Elysian Singers do justice" (Gramophone)

    "Bantock's sizeable following will be grateful that holes in his discography have been filled with such expertise and empathy" **** (BBC Music Magazine)

    "It would be difficult to praise the performances too highly" ***** (Choir and Organ)

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  • “An entrancing aural kaleidoscope,...
    which beguiles with its ravishing combination of the ethereal and the profound" (Radio 3 broadcaster, Jeremy Summerly)

    "The singing is among the finest you’ll hear from a chamber choir" (Radio WRST, University of Wisconsin)

    "A very enterprising selection...the choir make a light, fresh sound and sing with enthusiasm and commitment...the music is well performed and well recorded"
    (MusicWeb)

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  • Recordings

    It would be difficult to praise the performances too highly (Choir and Organ)

    Highly attractive...hugely enjoyable" (Time Out)

    Robust yet tonally refined performances ***** (BBC Music Magazine)

    Sam Laughton's Elysian Singers perform here with captivating intensity ***** (Classic FM)

    Subtle, disciplined, radiant (Gramophone)

    The Elysian Singers perform this often difficult work with clarity, precision and emotional punch (American Record Guide)

    Exquisitely sung with full-bodied, lively tone ***** (Classic CD)

    Magnificent (Church Times)

  • Media

    The female voices of the Elysian Singers contributed to a magical serenity descending over the [Albert] hall during Neptune, and when considered alongside the evening’s earlier strengths, helped to register this show as an undoubted early highlight of this year’s [Prom] festival (Music OMH, July 2015)

    A profound otherworldliness was initiated by the entry of the Elysian Singers, the off-stage female chorus seeming to sing from a distant planet, far beyond earthly realms (Seen and Heard International, July 2015)

    In the posthumous premiere of Sir John Tavener's Monument to Beethoven, [John] Scott's organ interjections brought visionary breadth to the Elysian Singers' luminous tapestry (The Times, March 2014)

    Amongst chamber choirs they’re one of the best (Sir John Tavener, BBC TV interview)

    The classy Elysian Singers (Howard Goodall on Twitter, November 2013)

    That superb choir (John Woolrich, Radio 3)

    The excellent Elysian Singers directed by Sam Laughton (Classical Source, reviewing our 2014 Festival Hall concert)

    Ambitious, well executed and strangely compelling (Simon Jack, reviewing Open Outcry on Radio 4)

    Excellently performed by the Elysian Singers under Sam Laughton (Keith Potter, The Independent)

    A persuasive ensemble, excellently attuned to this repertory (The York Press)

    “The Elysian Singers came up trumps…luminously soft and uniform” (David Ardatti review)

  • Feedback

    Heard you sing last Sunday in St Patrick’s Cathedral. Wow! (especially the Kodaly). Thanks, come again soon (S&MG, Dublin)

    I was moved, not just by the music, but also by the creativity of humankind, continually sharing new ways of contemplating life, and by the discipline of ordinary people who work hard and unpaid to interpret this beauty and emotion to others (York blog)

    Last night's concert was wonderful--and the links between these two great composers intriguing. Many thanks indeed (PE, Oxford)

    Heard your Gallant Weaver recording played on Radio 3 this morning - beautiful! It made my day 🙂 Gordon (e-mail address supplied)

    There were so many bits I loved. But most of all you looked, as a choir, like you were actually enjoying yourselves. Your encore made me cry for some reason – I think sitting there for a couple of hours was perfect therapy in the run up to Christmas – it made me want to run home and stick the girls’ stockings up and scatter cinnamon around the house (TM, London)

    Your CD of Sir Granville Bantock's music arrived today - what treasures it contains. As someone who has enjoyed singing in choirs for many years, I found this recording very special. Congratulations to all concerned!! (BL, Hobart, Tasmania)

    I just wanted to let you know how much I've been enjoying the new album. The choir sounds fabulous throughout. Congratulations! Please pass along my gratitude to your excellent singers (JL, USA)

    The closest I’ve come to a spiritual experience for a very long time... (DF, Streatham, after hearing the choir perform James Macmillan's Seven Last Words from the Cross)

    You made such a lovely sound this morning. Ave regina coelorum was exquisite - quite the loveliest thing I've heard for a long time (J P-B, Salisbury, 2011)

    We cannot thank you enough for the beautiful singing, which totally exceeded our expectations. We feel very privileged. I particularly loved the descant - it was a moment I will always remember (N&T wedding, April 2013)

    The Elysian Singers truly live up to their name; there is something heavenly about their singing...For the duration of [Peter Maxwell Davies’ Solstice of Light], I felt washed clean by its words and its music, taken out of the clutter and complications of London life. (JB, London blog, Feb 2014)


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