Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Hubert Parry Choral Festival, Gloucester

The Gloucester Choral Society host a choral festival honouring Charles Hubert Parry on the 100th anniversary of his death.  Parry was perhaps the finest British composer in the generation before Edward Elgar, and, as Director of the Royal College of Music, helped shape 20th century British music, in particular the music of John Ireland, Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan Williams.  Parry's Jerusalem is almost our National Anthem. But the song, like the poem by William Blake that inspired it, is all too often misunderstood. (Please read my piece on it HERE). Though born to privilege, Parry's sympathies lay closer to Blake's than to the Establishment. It's fitting, then, that the GCS Festival begins with a Come and Sing Workshop  led by Adrian Partington, where singers of all abilities will be welcome to sing Parry's Blest Pair of Sirens, and other pieces like Ireland's Vexilla Regis, Holst's Turn Back O Man and Vaughan Williams’sa Towards the Unknown Region.

On Saturday, 5th May,  a gala evening concert will be held at Gloucester Cathedral, where the Gloucester Choral Society will be joined by the Oxford Bach Choir and the Philharmonia Orchestra in a programme that begins  with Parry's I was Glad and ends with Jerusalem. Along the way, Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on a Theme by Tallis, Holst's Hymn of Jesus, Ireland's Greater Love hath no Man and Parry's Ode to the Nativity.  Earlier on, an afternoon recital with Ashley Grote, the noted organist, at St Peter's Catholic Church in Gloucester  with Parry's Chorale Fantasia on O God, our help in ages past, his Fantasia and Fugue in G and his Choral Preludes on Martyrdom and  Eventide plus organ music by Vaughan Williams, Holst and Ireland.  On Sunday,  Eucharist and Evensong at Gloucester  Cathedral will be celebrated with music by Parry,Vaughan Williams, and Howells

Perhaps the most unique event for true Parry devotees  will be the all-day study day on Monday 7th at Highnam, which isn't generally open to the public except by arrangement. Highnam House was built in the 16th century, and extensively restored by Thomas Gambier Parry, the composer's father, who built the Church of the Holy Innocents, a gem of Victorian architectural excellence. (There's a street named after him in Gloucester). Professor Jeremy Dibble , Parry's biographer and an authority on British music, will give a talk on Parry's choral music. There'll also be a recital, and an Evensong in the Church, which will include Parry's Magnificat and Nunc Dimmitus, Vaughan Williams's Antiphon and Parry's Chorale Prelude on Hanover.

More details here from the Three Choirs Festival website

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