21 Oct 2017: Dvořák Stabat Mater

Saturday 21 October 2017 2.30 pm

Wesley Church Centre, Chester CH1 1DA

Dvořák Stabat Mater in piano version

Conductor: Martin Bussey

Soprano soloistEmily Burnett

Alto soloist: Lucy Vallis

Tenor soloistWill Smith

Bass soloistPeter Edge

Tickets: £10 adults; £5 Full-time students and Under 18s

Dvorak is best known for his symphonies, particularly the New World Symphony, but he was celebrated as well in his day for his operas and choral works. Chester Bach Singers start their 2017-18 season with an unusual work by the celebrated composer, written in unusual circumstances. His Stabat Mater was composed in 1876. It is full of beautiful melodies, often with a folk influence, as Dvorak was keen to write music which reflected his native Bohemia (now the Czech and Slovak Republics). The poem is a slightly complex medieval text which considers the emotions of the Virgin Mary watching Christ’s Crucifixion. The emphasis is on her emotions as a mother and how these can have an impact on Christians. The unusual starting point for the setting was the death of one of Dvorak’s own children. As a relatively unknown composer at this stage, Dvorak knew he was unlikely to be able to stage a performance of the work with an orchestra. He therefore wrote the piece for four soloists, choir and piano accompaniment, played by our regular accompanist, Catherine Barnett. This makes the piece ideal for the forces of Chester Bach Singers. Although Dvorak later extended and orchestrated the work (sadly, after the deaths of two other children), the piece has direct impact in its earlier version. The mood is reflective, but Dvorak’s great gifts as a melody writer (as the New World Symphony shows) create continual interest, and he uses the choir in lots of varied ways, including groupings of voices (male or female) and as a backdrop to dramatic singing by operatic-style soloists. Chester Bach Singers is lucky to have four of the North West’s most promising young opera singers to perform these roles in Emily Burnett, Lucy Vallis, William Smith and Peter Edge.

Tickets: £10 adults; £5 Full-time students and Under 18s.