Epworth Choir

A member of the Guildford, Surrey, Woking and Horsell communities

About Epworth Choir

We are a friendly amateur mixed choir of about 80 singers from Woking and the surrounding areas.

The choir regularly performs in Woking and Guildford, engaging professional orchestras and soloists. After over 50 years of performing, Epworth has developed the assured reputation as one of Surrey’s leading choirs. The aim of the Epworth Choir is to raise money for local charities, whilst promoting the enjoyment of choral singing as a pleasurable activity, easily accessible to all.

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Conductor's notes: Rutter Requiem

Writing a requiem setting is nothing new to twentieth century composers. Settings written 500years ago are still in common use today. Most great composers wrote numerous operas,symphonies and sonatas, but it seems only ever made one attempt at the requiem: no mainstreamcomposer has attempted to write more than one setting.

Most requiem settings follow the framework of a liturgical mass - Kyrie, Sanctus, Benedictus,Agnus Dei etc. Rutter’s setting is more unusual in that, alongside familiar movements (there is aKyrie, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus), he uses psalm texts to form the other movements. Thissets the work aside from most other requiems, but is not without precedent. Brahms’ Requiemdoes not contain any movements recognisable from traditional liturgy, but he instead usesLutheran texts with much less overtly-religious content.

Gabriel Fauré’s (1845-1924) setting was a great inspiration to Rutter. He was the first composer tofollow the basic framework of the requiem liturgy but to tweak it to his own needs. He abandonedthe fire and brimstone of the Dies Irae and added the In Paradisum at the end (the Catholic texttraditionally intended to be read by the graveside). He also singled out the Pie Jesu and made it astandalone movement, which in turn inspired Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986), John Rutter, andnumerous others to do the same.

Rutter has talked openly about the influences - both personal and musical - which led to the writingof his Requiem in 1983. His father, who was very interested in music but not trained, died in thisyear. Rutter consciously wanted his setting to be accessible and something his father could haveimmediately enjoyed. Around the same time, the manuscript of Fauré’s Requiem had just come tolight and been made available to scholars. Coming in contact with the original manuscript of apiece Rutter loves deeply was, he says, also a catalyst for him to write his own setting.

It was clear from Fauré’s manuscript that performance practice of his setting has always been veryfluid. It was performed at funerals and at requiem masses both large and small, as well as inconcert. It is known certain movements would have been cut and others reordered. Importantly, itwas clear that with Fauré’s setting different combinations of instruments were available on differentoccasions, so Fauré allowed for this fluidity by having three basic versions:

  • organ only

  • chamber ensemble

  • full orchestra

Rutter said he felt this gave the piece a human, personal and practical character, which furtherinspired him to adopt a similar level of fluidity. Tonight we are performing the version written forchamber ensemble.

Rutter’s setting has a consciously arch-like structure running across the movements. The sevenmovements are structured as follows, with non-traditional psalm texts sitting inside the first and lastmovements, and the central movement (the Sanctus) conceived as the high-point of the work witha message of hope:

1&7: Requiem & Lux aeterna - traditional Latin texts

2&6: Outofthedeep & The Lord is my Shepherd - psalm texts

3&5: PieJesu & Agnus Dei - traditional Latin texts

4: Sanctus - traditional Latin text

John Rutter’s music needs little introduction. He is one of the most established and successfulchoral composers (and conductors) in the world. His music is immediately accessible andapproachable, making it hugely popular with choirs and audiences alike. Although still seen as a‘modern’ Requiem setting, the work is already over 30 years old. A quick internet search willhighlight dozens of performances of this work taking place up and down the country every week.

There are comparatively very few classical works from the 1980s which have become core parts ofthe repertoire: John Rutter and his Requiem, however, are now both fully entrenched ascornerstones of choral music.

Rutter Requiem and Renaissance Masterpieces

Epworth Choir will be holding a concert featuring Rutter’s Requiem and Renaissance Masterpieces. They will be joined once more by members of the Woking Symphony Orchestra and soloist Augusta Hebbert.

The Epworth Choir, which was established almost 60 years ago, has a long tradition of supporting local charities. For this concert, the choir will be raising funds for Action for Children, who help disadvantaged children through fostering and adoption, and by intervening early to stop neglect and abuse.

The choir’s Music Director, Michael Waldron, said recently “I am sure that music lovers will thoroughly enjoy John Rutter’s beautiful Requiem, and we have chosen a collection of glorious Renaissance pieces for the other half of our programme. We hope to attract a sell-out audience and raise as much money as possible for Action for Children, which does such important work”.
When
29 Apr 2017 at 7:30pm
Where
Holy Trinity Church
High Street
Guildford
GU1 3RR