2.30pm Sunday 3rd June 2012
Madingley Hall, near Cambridge
Admission free, tickets to be reserved in advance
On this Jubilee weekend we are delighted to bring you a programme of music from the two ages of Elizabeth. We begin - in this sixteenth-century hall - in the sixteenth century, with music by Byrd, Sheppard and White. Music for the second Elizabeth includes Ubi Caritas by Mealor (sung in Westminster Abbey at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge), and even newer repertoire by Charlton and Watts.
Tim Watts, Madingley’s Musician in Residence, writes about his commission Though I Speak:
St Paul’s famous letter to the Corinthians is a masterpiece of rhetoric, which contains many of the most resonant passages in all scripture. Arresting imagery brings his vision memorably to life, and his argument assumes overwhelming emotional force through the rhythmic momentum generated by (often threefold) repetition. However, despite his manifest verbal skill, Paul opens with a warning against eloquence without love.
In my setting of these words I have aimed to retain a sense of Paul’s words as speech. The tenors begin by taking on the role of an orator whose words gradually spread among the other voices. Two portions of text receive especially extended treatment. A passacaglia (based on a four-note descent) conveys love’s patience and long suffering; I liked both the older form of words, “Love suffers long” and the newer, “Love is patient” so I used both here. The idea of knowledge “in part” receives a fugal treatment in which the line is shared between the different vocal parts. Love’s paramount importance is enacted musically by magnifying the structural weight given to the word, “love” in the text, and, ultimately, by leaving behind spoken grammar to focus on repetition of this word, alone.