Chorus lines diverge

Choral group  Albion performing on a horse and cart in the Peace Gardens during the Great Yorkshire Run Olympic Torch festivities.
Choral group Albion performing on a horse and cart in the Peace Gardens during the Great Yorkshire Run Olympic Torch festivities.

ALBION, the small chamber choir formed earlier this year, has a concert at Upper Chapel on Norfolk Street on October 6, the same night as the Sheffield Oratorio Chorus begins its 2012-13 season at Sheffield Cathedral.

Mind you, they both do things differently and respective repertoires hardly overlap.

Alan Eost’s programming as music director of the much larger Oratorio Chorus continues to reflect his fondness for pre-1750 choral music in the choir’s first two concerts.

On October 6 it manifests itself in the second of Vivaldi’s two settings of Dixit Dominus (Psalm 110) – actually, a third has surfaced in recent times! – and the Magnificat setting by Pergolesi which some say is by the Neapolitan composer of exclusively religious music, Francesco Durante.

Completing the concert is the third of Schubert’s under-performed settings of the Latin Mass, in B flat. He penned six, and performances of them are scarce to the point of once in a blue moon, yet they are smashing works and the joyous B flat is an ideal introduction if you don’t know them.

Soloists include Oratorio Chorus regulars, soprano Debra Morley and Sheffield born and raised mezzo-soprano Cari Searle.

After the diversion forward nearly 200 years with Schubert, however, it’s back to an all-Monteverdi concert on November 24, which includes his Christmas Vespers (circa 1640), or are they? The music is definitely his, but whether strictly the work is we will consider nearer the time.

With the cathedral closing at the end of the year for renovation, the chorus sets up temporary home at Ecclesall Parish Church where, on March 23, it will be offering Fauré’s Requiem, Bob Chilcott’s three Canticles of Light, Finzi’s Lo, the Final Sacrifice and Ronald Law’s Missa Brevis.

The main work at Ecclesall on June 29 is Britten’s radio cantata from 1937, The Company of Heaven, which the chorus successfully resurrected in recent times and is reviving to coincide with the 100th anniversary year of the composer’s birth.

Also being performed is Musick’s Jubilee by Andrew Carter and soloists include Cari Searle again and Dronfield soprano Andrea Ryder with the Northern Chamber Orchestra sitting in on this occasion.

Back to Albion, the 12-or-so-member choir started by Fraser Wilson, which reprises some old favourites among a 20-item programme: Skye Boat Song, Scarborough Fair, Jerusalem, Loch Lomond, Danny Boy, at Upper Chapel on October 6, when there is talk of “special guests.”

The group performs “the music of these islands,” sacred and secular, mostly in arrangements by its founder, as well as new pieces by him, setting texts from the literary heritage of the British Isles.

You may have seen Albion last night (Wednesday) when it performed in the Spiegeltent in Barker’s Pool as part the Culture Club Showcase, or perhaps from a horse-driven cart in Peace Garden festivities following the recent BUPA Great Yorkshire Run on September 2.

Some members sang for services at Wells Cathedral for a week over the summer and, in short, Albion is not your average choral body. The members are even threatening to produce a seven-item Yuletide ‘albumette’ to promote Albion’s Christmas concert at St Mark’s, Broomhill on December 21.