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Prague Philharmonic Choir

 19 May 2015 at 8pm 

Prague Philharmonic Choir

Church of St Simon and St Jude
Czech Republic

Prague Philharmonic Choir

The concert of the Prague Philharmonic Choir will present four extraordinarily fine works of enormous musical diversity.

The sacred music of John Tavener (1944 – 2013) is comparable to the works of Arvo Pärt and Henryk Gorecki. In the 1960s, he succeeded at ingeniously combining classical music with the current wave of popular music. In 1968, it was John Lennon who saw to the release of a recording of Taverner’s cantata The Whale, in which the composer combined electronic tape, electrically amplified percussion instruments, and choir using a megaphone. From the 1970s, John Tavener turned his attention to the East, taking inspiration from sources including India’s sacred texts, Islamic mysticism, and especially Easter Orthodoxy. “The text [for the composition Svyati – O Holy One] is used at almost every Russian Orthodox service, perhaps most poignantly after the congregation have kissed the body in an open coffin at an Orthodox funeral. The choir sings as the coffin is closed and borne out of the church, followed by the mourners with lighted candles. The cello represents the priest or icon of Christ. As in Greek drama, the choir and priest are in dialogue with each other.” (John Tavener)

Concerning Veljo Tormis (*1930), The Daily Telegraph wrote: “After Arvo Pärt, Tormis is probably Estonia’s most important living composer.” His works have been commissioned and performed by such ensembles as the King’s Singers and the Hilliard Ensemble, which is well known to the Prague public. He writes almost exclusively for choirs, and the number of his choral works is in excess of 500. The vast majority of his music is based on old Estonian folk songs.

Cloudburst is one of Whitacre’s most spectacular works. Eric Whitacre (*1970) composed it at the age of 22 for eight-part chorus, piano, and percussion. The first part of the composition effectively combines clusters with spoken or sung solos. The second part, from which the work takes its name, actually evokes the feeling of an impending storm, not only thanks to the addition of instruments, but also because of the singers’ handclapping, finger snapping, and thigh slapping that are intended to make the effect of raindrops. In 2007, a recording of Cloudburst and other works by Whitacre was nominated for a Grammy in the category for “Best Choral Performance”.

John Tavener : Svyati for mixed choir and cello
Arvo Pärt : Seven Magnificat Antiphons for mixed choir
Veljo Tormis : Livonian Heritage for solos and mixed choir
Eric Whitacre : Cloudburst for mixed choir, percussion and piano

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