Vivaldi's Gloria in Chichester Cathedral

The Sixteen (c)Arnaud Stephenson
The Sixteen (c)Arnaud Stephenson
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The Sixteen choir and orchestra will be conducted by Harry Christophers when they visit Chichester Cathedral on Thursday, February 8 at 7.30pm – always a favourite venue.

“I always think it is the most delightful venue,” says Harry. “It has got a beautiful acoustic. The thing about cathedrals is that they were built so much with the music in mind, just as the composers were writing with the buildings in mind. I think most of that period of cathedrals were built on the same ratio. Some are bigger and some are smaller, but Chichester is perfect.

“And you are very conscious of it when you are performing. It is so good for instrumentalists and singers to feel something coming back from the building.

“In this sort of programme with a big cathedral acoustic some of the detail could get lost, but in the slower pieces, you can really relish the stonework feeding the sound back and giving us more bloom. In some cathedrals, you get a more lively acoustic; in Chichester, you get a much more mellow sound which is lovely for us.

The programme for the night will be: Vivaldi – Sinfonia from La Dorilla RV 709; Bach – Mass in G major BWV 236; Handel – Overture from Esther (1st version); Handel – The Lord our enemy has slain from Esther; and Vivaldi – Gloria in D major RV 589.

“Vivaldi’s Gloria – one of sacred music’s most uplifting choral works and a joyful hymn of praise with moments ranging from festive brilliance to profound sadness – was composed in Venice, probably in 1715, for the choir of the Ospedale della Pietà. Its wonderfully-sunny nature and distinctive melodies and rhythms gives it an immediate and universal appeal. Bach was a fierce admirer of Vivaldi’s work, and his extraordinarily-inventive Mass in G major complements the Gloria perfectly.

“I adore making up these programmes,” Harry says. “It is very important for an audience to be able to latch on to something that they know, one or two more familiar pieces, maybe with one or two that they don’t know so well. And you also have to remember that there will be people there who won’t have been to a concert like this before and you have got to help them realise that although baroque sounds like it is old, baroque music is wonderfully vibrant, so much so that it sounds so modern, which is what makes it very special.

“You get such a thrill from people who have not been to something like this before saying how much they enjoyed the experience, and it is great when you are in a beautiful building such as Chichester, when you are in such a splendid setting, and you hear this glorious music coming out from the stonework and rumbling up from the floor…”

Tickets (£15-£30) online from thesixteen.com.