A Little Jazz

The Chamber Choir’s next concert is a delightful fusion of the English choral tradition and jazz, with the music of our main composers being amongst the best of this style. John Rutter is perhaps best known for his carol arrangements and compositions, but has also written large scale choral works, such as Magnificat, which we performed in 2010. In our June concert, we sing some of his most popular anthems, including All things bright and beautiful, For the beauty of the earth, Look at the world and The Lord bless you and keep you.

Bob Chilcott was a member of the King’s Singers for many years, during which time he worked with great figures from the jazz world, such as Johnny Dankworth, Richard Rodney Bennett and George Shearing. His A Little Jazz Mass has jazzy piano accompaniment, which can be supplemented with double bass (as we are doing, with Thomas Holder leaving our vocal bass section to play his instrumental bass). Each movement has its own character, featuring a relaxed bossa nova, energetic swing, jazz lullaby and blues. The combining of two very different traditions – the Latin Mass and the jazz style – works completely naturally in the skilful hands of Chilcott and we are all (traditionalists included!) enjoying singing this!

We are also performing his beautiful arrangement of ‘O Danny Boy’.

George Shearing is the only one of our composers not alive – he died in 2011. Born congenitally blind, he first earned his daily bread playing piano in a pub, but went on to spend most of his life in America and enjoyed an international career as a pianist, arranger and composer, being equally at home on the concert stage as in jazz clubs. The first performance of Songs and Sonnets, in 1999, featured George Shearing himself at the piano with guest conductor John Rutter. The style of the music is unashamedly jazzy, with lots of rich harmony, and a variety of moods, but there are also plenty of references to madrigals of an earlier age too. Thomas Holder again joins the choir’s wonderful accompanist, Elizabeth Burtenshaw, on his bass.

We are very lucky to have the composing talent of Mark Browse in our choir bass section and are singing his setting of Walter de la Mare’s poem Music. Mark says of his piece: ‘ In 2011 the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus ran a composition competition to mark their centenary. Looking for a suitable text to set, I had the idea of finding a poem from the same time as the Chorus was founded. Walter de la Mare’s poem Music was in fact written in 1914, when the BSC was already two years old, but its subject matter—the transforming power of music—was so apt that it was immediately clear to me that this was the perfect choice. I’m pleased to say I won third prize and the BSC gave the first performance of Music in 2012’. We are also singing an anthem by Mark: Holy, heavenly love.

The concert is in the Barn, Causeway, on Saturday 24 June starting at 7.30pm

The bar will be open and the evening will definitely go with a swing. Tickets, £13 (under18s £6) available from members of the Choir, or can be reserved by calling 07730983314, or will be available at the door, subject to space limitations.

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