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25 March 2017 7:30pm

Conductor ~ Matthew Rudd
Organ ~ Charlie Penn
Soloist ~ Claire Lloyd Griffiths

Programme includes:

John Rutter ~ Requiem
Michael Tippett ~ Spirituals from 'A Child of Our Time'
Paul Mealor ~ Wherever you are (As performed by the Military Wives choir)
Howard Goodall ~ Sure on the sky, sure on the sun
Rudolf Mauersberger ~ Wie liegt die Stadt so wüst (How desolate lies the city)

In the first half of the programme, all of the pieces have an association with times of war and conflict in the Twentieth Century. Michael Tippett's oratorio A Child of Our Time was inspired by the assassination in 1938 of a German diplomat by a young Jewish refugee and the Nazi government's violent reaction, which ultimately led to the events of Kristallnacht. Composed in 1939 - 1940 and first performed in 1944, this large-scale work is punctuated by the inclusion of songs of oppression in the form of American Spirituals; these pieces were later re-arranged for unaccompanied choir under the title Five Spirituals from A child of our time. The German composer Rudolf Mauersberger's motet Wie liegt die Stadt so wüst (How desolate lies the city), was written after the destruction of Dresden in February 1945 in an allied fire-bombing raid, which claimed the lives of 25,000 people, including eleven of his own choristers from the Dresdner Kreuzchor. This astonishingly moving work sets words from the Lamentations of Jeremiah, but the particular verses Mauersberger chose could as easily have been written for the events in that city in 1945. The first half also includes two modern pieces: Paul Mealor's Wherever you are was written for and recorded by the Military Wives Choir, which was formed of wives and partners of British military personnel deployed on active service in Afghanistan. This incredibly popular song entered the UK Singles Chart at number one in 2011, an unusual claim for a modern choral work. Setting both English and German texts, Howard Goodall's Sure of the Sky, Sure of the Sun is a haunting and moving reflection on the futility of war. It was premiered at one of the UK's three main World War I centenary commemoration events in 2014 in the woodland cemetery of St Symphorien near Mons, Belgium, the resting place for the first and last British soldiers to die on the Western Front.

The second half of the concert features John Rutter's Requiem, one of the best-loved and most widely performed choral works of the twentieth century. The texts (in Latin and English) are from the Missa pro Defunctis, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Psalms. The seven sections form an arch-like meditation on the themes of life and death: prayers on behalf of all humanity, psalms, personal prayers to Christ; in the central Sanctus an affirmation of divine glory, and as the work concludes a plea that the departed 'may rest in peace'. Ely Consort will be joined in this piece by the soprano soloist Clare Lloyd Griffiths, who makes a welcome return visit to Ely Cathedral, accompanist Charlie Penn, and a small instrumental ensemble.

Tickets £15, £10 U16 £7.50, £5 available ONLINE at or from ELY CATHEDRAL BOX OFFICE 01353 660349 (Mon-Sat 9.30am-4pm)