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Durham Singers – Songs of Farewell

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24 March 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

Ushaw College
Durham. DH7 9RH

D. Scarlatti: Stabat Mater
Lotti: Crucifixus
Parry: Songs of Farewell , conducted by Assistant Musical Director Francesca Massey.
(My soul, there is a country; I know my soul hath power; Never weather-beaten sail; There is an old belief; At the round earth’s imagined corners; Lord, let me know mine end)

In our Passiontide programme, composers from two very different worlds use the power of music to help us contemplate the end of life and whatever may lie beyond.

From the Italian baroque, we sing deeply expressive settings by Domenico Scarlatti and Antonio Lotti of Latin texts. The Stabat Mater is a medieval poem about Jesus’s mother as she stands at the foot of the cross watching her son die, probably intended for use in private prayer and devotion. Other famous Italian settings by Vivaldi, Pergolesi, and Domenico’s father Alessandro use female solo voices to express the unimaginable grief of the mother who must watch her son die in agony; in contrast, Domenico uses a ten-part choir, but he keeps the female voices to the forefront with four soprano parts.
Antonio Lotti’s eight-part setting of the Crucifixus is probably the composer’s best-known work. Taken from a full mass setting, this exquisite 8-part gem is full of anguished harmonies depicting Christ’s crucifixion.

In contrast to the lavish Italian outpourings of grief, Parry’s six Songs of Farewell, written in the last few years of  his life, allow us to reflect quietly on our own mortality, and these deeply personal and introspective part songs are very different to the ceremonial music that we often associate with him. In them, Parry contemplates how his own life is drawing to an end, but the music is also coloured by the tragedies of the First World War – Parry was deeply affected not just by the loss of so many young lives, but also by the cultural break with Germany, and the influence of composers such as Brahms is ever-present in Parry’s melodies and in his carefully crafted counterpoint. The first five ‘Songs’ use texts by English poets, including Henry Vaughan, Thomas Campion and John Donne and the set ends with Psalm 39, Lord, Let me know mine end written just before Parry’s death in October 1918.

Tickets available here or from choir members, Durham Music Shop, or calling 07790 148062 to reserve on the door.

Important Event Information

Doors Open: 7pm
Ticket Prices: Adult £12, Students and under 25s £8, Children 13 and under free
Ticket Availability: Tickets available from the link above or from members of the choir.
Accessibility: Please get in touch to confirm arrangements


24 March
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
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Ushaw College
Durham. DH7 9RH