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Charlton Kings Choral Society 60th Anniversary Concert

Add Charlton Kings Choral Society 60th Anniversary Concert to your Itinerary

Charlton Kings Choral Society 60th Anniversary Concert


Tewkesbury Abbey
Church Street
GL20 5RZ


Tel: 01451 822110

Mendelssohn's Elijah has always occupied a place close to the hearts of English choral societies and their audiences. After its first performance at Birmingham Town Hall in 1846, conducted by the composer himself, The Times declared: 'Never was there a more complete triumph – never a more thorough and speedy recognition of a great work of art.' For most Victorians it soon became the most popular of all the oratorios, topped only by Handel's Messiah. Although the oratorio was originally written with German text, Mendelssohn appointed William Bartholomew to provide an English translation. After some revisions to the score Mendelssohn conducted four more performances of Elijah by the Sacred Harmonic Society in London in April 1847, with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert present at the second performance. By the time of the German premiere in October 1847 Mendelssohn was too ill to conduct, and he died on 4 November at the age of only 38.
To the people of Victorian England Elijah represented the solid moral and musical values of the past, presenting a popular and colourful Bible story in which miracles played their part. Elijah, arguably the fiercest of the Biblical prophets, seemed at first a strange choice for the gentle and conservative Mendelssohn. Of Jewish descent, his family had converted to Lutheranism when he was a small boy, but the Jewish roots are apparent in the story of Elijah in which the God whose will must prevail is entirely the fearsome Jehovah of the Old Testament. In a letter of 1838 Mendelssohn wrote: 'I imagined Elijah as a real prophet through and through, of the kind we could really do with today: strong, zealous and yes, even bad-tempered, angry and brooding – in contrast to the riff-raff, whether of the court or of the people, and indeed at odds with almost the whole world – and yet borne aloft on angels' wings.'
Musically the work contains both religious and dramatic material. There is strong characterisation as in Bach's St Matthew Passion (a work which Mendelssohn introduced to England) but overall the style fits into what might be called conservative Romanticism, with the contrapuntal influence of Bach very strong in many of the choruses. It avoids the excesses of contemporary Romantic composers. Melodic invention is always at the forefront in the solo arias, and it is not surprising that the Victorians found 'O rest in the Lord' the most delectable number, as many audiences still do today, over 170 years after it was written.
Charlton Kings Choral Society and the Regency Sinfonia, conducted by John Wright, will be joined by soloists Hannah Davey, Serena Kay, Edward Rimmer and, singing the part of Elijah, Benedict Nelson. Described as one of the country's most exciting young baritones Benedict, originally from Cirencester, has appeared at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and at English National Opera, where he sang the roles of Billy Budd, and Figaro in The Barber of Seville.

Come and join us! Whether you're an experienced singer or completely new to choral singing, you will be made most welcome. See or ring Isabel Hull (Secretary) on 01451 822110 or Nick Symonds (Chairman) on 01242 573205.

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