Sussex Festival Choir head to Arundel Cathedral

Sussex Festival Choir
Sussex Festival Choir

Sussex Festival Choir are promising an evening of contrast in Arundel Cathedral for their annual charity concert.

The programme consists of two differing settings of the Mass – one by Beethoven, the other by Puccini. Both were still young men when the works were written.

Choir spokesman Patrick McGuinness-Smith said: “Giacomo Puccini was born in 1858 and composed some of the world’s best-loved operas including La Boheme, Turandot and Madame Butterfly.

“Successful operas must have good music; Puccini always said he wanted to compose tunes which common folk could whistle in the street. He was a master tunesmith. This ability to write popular tunes is displayed in his Missa di Gloria; he takes the traditional words of the Gloria Mass and clothes them in memorable music.

“Beethoven’s Mass in C was composed seventy years earlier than the Puccini when he was in his mid-thirties. He acquired a commission from Prince Esterhazy, who had been Joseph Haydn’s major sponsor.

“When Beethoven presented the completed work, he expressed great trepidation at the comparison that would inevitably be drawn with the former master Haydn.

“Whatever the Prince thought of the work, Beethoven was not invited to become the Prince’s right hand composer as Haydn had been.

“The work has a directness and a tenderness in its emotional moments and is a precursor to his great Missa Solemnis written fifteen years later.

“Although Beethoven too wrote successful operas, his Mass in C is a far more conventional setting of the Latin Mass.

“The contrast separating the two works in this programme illustrates vividly the difference in approach to sacred music between German respect for tradition and Italian flair and enthusiasm.”

Patrick added: “The Festival Choir and Sinfonia da Chiesa come together each summer to play a charity concert in aid of the West Sussex hospices – St Wilfrid’s and St Catherine’s. The soloists are the soprano Lesley-Jane Rogers, contralto Susan Legg, tenor Neil Jenkins and baritone David Wilson-Johnson; singers and orchestra are under the baton of Stephen Hope. His efforts on behalf of the hospice movement have raised over £185,000 in the past years.

“Hospices receive little funding from the NHS or Department of Health and rely very heavily on donations; fund-raising activities like this concert are a vital support for them.”

Tickets costing £24 (concessions £22) are available at the door and can be reserved by phoning 01372 741100; if no reply, leave your name and number and you will be contacted.

The concert starts at 7.15pm on Sunday, July 21 in Arundel Cathedral.

Patrick added: “Your presence at the concert will help give valuable support to West Sussex hospices – and provide you with an enjoyable and uplifting music experience.”

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