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Heavy and happy is the music that crowns a king

PETER ROBB, Ottawa Citizen
November 26, 2014
Since the coronation of William the Conqueror at Westminster Abbey in 1066, every British monarch has been crowned in a service full of glorious music. Ottawa-native counter tenor Daniel Taylor tells Peter Robb a little bit about the service and a performance of the music he is delivering on Dec. 3.

Q. What an interesting project. Where/when did the idea germinate?
A. The coronation of the Queen took place 60 years ago on June 2, 1953, when Queen Elizabeth II was crowned at Westminster Abbey. The Diamond Jubilee marked the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne. On the BBC, a shining example of what the CBC could be with proper management and effective government support, 30 million British citizens tuned in to watch a Coronation Festival. Last year, at the residence of the governor general, I was awarded the Queen’s Medal in recognition for my work in the arts. A few days later, I listened to the Gabrieli Consort’s Venetian Coronation and days later to the King Consort’s stunning rendition of Parry’s I Was Glad- it reminded me how much music can move us. In our current political climate, in a time when there still exists inequality in our society, when child poverty continues to go unnoticed by our ruling government, as our population ages I feel more and more the need to bring music to people.

Q. Please tell me about how you researched the music and the ceremony?
A. I traveled to Westminster Abbey, to St. George’s Chapel in Windsor and to the Chapel Royal. I spoke at length with the well-known British Period-Orchestra conductors Paul McCreesh and Robert King. We know that there are no indisputable documents that detail a specific order of service for the Coronations. We can be sure that the Clerk of the Cheque’s account of the service is fairly accurate in indicating that there was an introductory anthem as well as a setting of a work by Orlando Gibbons and Thomas Tallis confirming the tradition of returning to compositions of the past composers with works found in the music library of the Chapel Royal. Thus this concert/ceremony honors the ‘old’ music and music from the greatest of the English composers in a reconstruction of the pageant.
One of King George I’s last acts before his death on June 11, 1727 was to sign an act of naturalization of George Frederick Handel. Handel’s first subsequent commission was to write music for the coronation of King George II which took place on Oct. 11, 1727. To celebrate the ascension to the throne, a magnificent service full of pomp and ceremony was planned. The commissioning of new music was usually entrusted to the Composer and Organist of the Royal Chapel, however with the unexpected death of William Croft, the King appointed "Mr. Handel, the famous composer to the opera."
We will be playing Handel’s coronation anthems Zadok the Priest and The King Shall Rejoice. Their festive character brought the works great popularity, the performances being hugely successful and have been played ever since, Handel re-used excerpts notably in Deborah and Ester. Zadok the Priest has been sung at every subsequent coronation and was traditionally performed, as it will be in our concert, during the anointment of the King. (At Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953 music by Gibbons, Purcell, Tallis and Handel, including Zadok the Priest, was played.)

Q. Any interesting stories to tell about the coronation music that you uncovered?
A. It is to some extent that we owe some thanks to Sir Frederick Bridge for his decision to shed a light on the best of the British composers. Bridge, the English composer and organist, became known to historians for organizing great state occasions including Queen Victoria’s jubilee in 1887, the Coronation of King Edward VII in 1902 and the Coronation of George V in 1902. On receiving his commission as Director Music, Bridge courageously decided to make a coronation a celebration of 400 years of English music including works by Orlando Gibbons, Henry Purcell and Thomas Tallis alongside compositions of the day. New works commissioned included Hubert Parry’s setting of Psalm 122, I Was Glad, which has been used at every subsequent coronation, it was made famous in modern times when it was performed at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

Q. Tell me about your upcoming performance.
A. The concert is played on period instruments and combines choristers from the Theatre of Early Music, the University of Toronto Schola Cantorum and the York University Chamber Choir. Just as Choirs were combined for the major events, so do we bring together 60 young choristers and musicians. We open with the tolling of the bells, a trumpet fanfare and cries of Vivat either side of the procession of the drums — it’s fantastic stuff.

A regal affair with Daniel Taylor, Lisette Canton and the Theatre of Early Music

Performed at Christ Church Cathedral, Ottawa
Reviewed Wednesday night, Dec 3rd by Natasha Gauthier, the Ottawa Citizen

Royal pomp was on offer Wednesday evening at Christ Church Cathedral - complete with trumpets, drums, a jowly bishop and a boy king - as Daniel Taylor and Lisette Canton co-conducted the Theatre of Early Music and assorted guests in a program of music fit for a coronation.

The TEM choir was augmented by members of University of Toronto’s Schola Cantorum, which Taylor directs, and the York University Chamber Choir, led by Ottawa’s Lisette Canton.

Presented as a mock crowning ceremony, the concert opened with a sonata for two violins by French Baroque composer Jean-Marie Leclair. It was jauntily played by Cynthia Roberts and Adrian Butterfield...

After a drum procession and a trumpet fanfare the performance began in earnest with Hubert Parry’s soul-shaking anthem I Was Glad, directed by Taylor. He conducts from a deeply spiritual place and coaxed a fresh, mentholated sound out of the largely student choirs, with crisp if not entirely Westminster diction. Organist Matthew Larkin provided grand, spacious accompaniment.

Canton took over to direct Handel’s Coronation Anthem, The King Shall Rejoice. Canton’s style is quite different from Taylor’s: more extroverted and rhythmically driven; clearer to follow perhaps, but also less obsessive about details in the text.

Gibbon’s stunningly simple, open-hearted anthem Drop, Drop Slow Tears and Elizabeth Poston’s lovely carol Jesus Christ the Apple Tree, both conducted by Taylor, were the emotional and musical highlights of the concert, crystalline in their transparency and softly glowing with humility. The singers showed admirable focus despite loudly popping speakers and hacking audience members.

The coronation on Queen Street concluded with two kingly Handel works. Taylor took Zadok the Priest - the most famous of the four Coronation Anthems - at a more sedate tempo than many early music specialists. It had nobility........they rallied to crown the concert with a golden chord at the very end.

 

 

Theatre of Early Music - Latest Release

CD cover


Analekta
AN 29143
September 9 2014

#1 on the Classical Soundscan
Canada WholeNote Magazine

To listen to The Heart’s Refuge or
to order a CD on line
or download MP3 from Analekta
please click here:
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The Heart’s Refuge / Le Refuge du cœur

1. Buxtehude, Dietrich (1637 - 1707)
Jesu, meines Lebens, BuxWV 62 (Aria)

2. Bach, Johann Cristoph (1642 - 1703)
Es ist nun aus mit menem Leben (Aria)

3. Schmelzer, Johann Heinrich (1680)
Harmonia a 5

4. Kuhnau, Johann (1660 - 1722)
Gott, sei mir gnädig nach diener

5. Bruhns, Nicolaus (1665 - 1697)
Ich Liege und schlafe mit Frieden

Schola Cantorum and The Theatre of Early Music:
Daniel Taylor, Director


Recent Reviews:

The most recent recording of the Theatre of Early Music (TEM) and the Schola Cantorum entitled The refuge of heart, published by Analekta, offers images of peace and serenity like many pearls on a unlikely necklace.

Of course, great baroque music is made up of a large and varied repertoire and perhaps we should not be surprised to hear such beautiful interpretations. But what sets this album apart from many others is the care taken by the conductor and artistic director of the Theatre of Early Music Daniel Taylor and his research and selection of composers and works. This may be first time on one recording that the well-known figures of Dietrich Buxtehude and Johann Christoph Bach (cousin of the father of Johann Sebastian Bach) are paired with rare compositions by lesser-known composers Johann Kuhnau, Johann Heinrich Schmelzer and Nicolaus Bruhns.

The purity and depth of what is offered to the listener is made even better by the impressive cast of soloists: the mezzo-soprano Rebecca Claborn, countertenor Kyle Guilfoyle, tenor Isaiah Bell and bass Alexander Dobson deliver inspired performances and the impression of a contagious spirituality.

In perfect harmony with the chorus and soloists, musicians of the TEM show guided restraint required for this type of repertoire in which the voice and text must occupy the largest share of the listeners focus - the particular sound of old instruments is offered here in all its flavour. The thoughtful, unhurried work immediately transports us elsewhere and for quite sometime. Such music, such purity!
Thank you Mr. Taylor!

www.pieuvre.ca

 

Whether one is a believer or not, it’s always with an attitude of deep meditation that we surrender to listening to the music of the German masters of the Baroque era. With a new album from the Analekta catalog, entitled Refuge of the Heart, featuring the Theatre of Early Music (TEM) and Schola Cantorum under the direction of Daniel Taylor, we dive a little deeper inside the heart and soul of contemporaries of one of the most turbulent times in history, that of the 30 Years War (seventeenth century). True to its mission to rediscover old music, TEM and its founder and artistic director, Daniel Taylor, revealing here five gorgeous cantatas by German composers of the Baroque era, all together in one album. Dietrich Buxtehude (1637 - 1707), Johann Christoph Bach (1642 - 1703), Johann Heinrich Schmelzer (1623 - 1680), Johann Kuhnau (1660 - 1722) and Nicolaus Bruhns (1665-1697).

These German cantatas were constantly renewed by the great Italian masters of the Baroque. The ensemble’s distinctive style, coupled with the expertise and enthusiasm of Taylor, leads to exciting and authentic readings of these works in a musical testimony of agony, torment, but also offering consolation for this century’s torn repression and internal conflict.

This repertoire covers a breadth in time of 4 centuries. Between 1618 and 1648, a series of devastating wars decimated half the population of Europe. If believers found refuge in their faith and their hope for a better world, the composers of the time found an endless source of inspiration. During the seventeenth century, Lutheran musicians created a magnificent repertoire of sacred music. The texts emphasize Christ’s message in an original and varied way. Death and deliverance ... the suffering of Jesus ... the distress of the soul are shown by ingenious methods of musical imagery: motifs are repeated to emphasise their message in the mind of the believer; very simple melodies have been refined to create a deep sense of peace and harmony ; a rapid succession of contrasts; voices change from soprano to bass successively to evoke the descent into the tomb..

All this reflects the emotional landscape for those that were brought face to face with the horrors of war and destruction. A non-profit organization, the TEM's mission is to allow early music to shine in all its glory. The excellent musicians share their passion alongside prestigious guests, through their series of concerts in Canada and through touring nationally and internationally (France, Argentina, Brazil, England and Asia in particular). Under the baton of Taylor, the Schola Cantorum of the University of Toronto - the elite of students of all levels - are guided by a desire to make known early music in its original version, joining the TEM to offer us a brilliant and authentic presentation. Restoring the works of great masters so that they regain lustre in our eyes, Daniel Taylor and musicians from TEM are meticulous in their work, this is an offering that reveals every dimension of humanity.
Listen to this album, it is like rediscovering an old world in a new light.

Translation from french of Marie-Josée Boucher : original : info-culture.biz

 

 

TEM well received at the 61st Tilford Bach Festival in Surrey, England

photo of TEM choir & soloists 61st Tilford Bach Festival

Sunday, 26th May, 2013
All Saints’ Church
Tilford, Surrey, England

The London Handel Orchestra
Conductor Adrian Butterfield

Choir of the Theatre of Early Music

J.S. Bach Cantatas for Trinity Sunday:

Cantata BWV 165 O heilges Geist- und Wasserbad
Cantata BWV 129 Gelobet sei der Herr, mein Gott
and
Magnificat in D major BWV 243

The final concert of each festival has traditionally been choral works by JS Bach and this year was no exception.

This year’s programme started quietly with the cantata BWV165 O heilges Geist - und Wasserbad (O holy font of Spirit and Water), a cantata for Trinity Sunday, being performed on that day. The London Handel Orchestra, under the direction of TBS Musical Director Adrian Butterfield, together with the choir and soloists from the Choir of the Theatre of Early Music (visiting from Toronto), delivered a warmly appreciated rendition of this piece.

The second piece was also a cantata for Trinity Sunday, written in 1726, one year later than the previous work and using a larger orchestra and larger chorus. The audience had its first taste of percussion and brass with the arrival of three natural trumpets.

Bach’s selective use of trumpets greatly enhances their impact when they are deployed and, at this concert, the effect was very stimulating during the remainder of the concert.

The second cantata, BWV 165 Gelobet sei der Herr, mein Gott (Praise be the Lord, my God) was a more powerful piece and introduced the audience to more of the soloists from Toronto whose interpretation and delivery was excellent throughout. The interval allowed the audience to enjoy their drinks outside in sunny weather with a growing feeling of expectancy for a second half that promised much.

Bach’s Magnificat BWV 243 is demanding and extremely well known to TBS regulars. As the full visiting choir entered the small church, the audience tensed in anticipation of hearing one of their favourite works performed by a relatively unknown assembly of musicians led by their new(ish) Musical Director, Adrian Butterfield.

There was no disappointment. The singers and orchestra delivered an excellent performance that shook the foundations of the small village church. There was good attack in the choruses and excellent solo singing.

The final chorus Gloria Patri was everything the audience were then hoping for with, once again, superb trumpets that didn’t falter with all performers stretched to their limits. Adrian Butterfield has now delivered two excellent festivals for local music lovers.

Ian Sargeant

 

Concert Review:
Handel’s Anthems beautifully handled by skilled musicians
By Richard Todd, The Ottawa Citizen, December 10, 2012

Handel’s Coronation Anthems
Theatre of Early Music and Schola Cantorum
Daniel Taylor, conductor
Knox Presbyterian Church - Saturday December 8th

Handel’s four Coronation Anthems are not in any sense Christmas music, but they sound so celebratory that with different words they might pass readily as music of the season. They were the backbone of a concert given Saturday evening at Knox Presbyterian Church by Daniel Taylor’s Theatre of Early Music and a choir made up mainly of members of Toronto’s Schola Cantorum.

The all-Handel program began with the Overture to the Water Music played conductorless by the TEM’s superb baroque orchestra. The quality of the playing and idiomatic styling were to be the rule for the entire program. Although it’s unfair to everyone else, in a way, the beautiful oboe playing of Matthew Jennejohn and Geoffrey Burgess needs to be singled out.

The first of the Anthems was perhaps the most familiar, Zadok the Priest. After several measures of orchestral introduction, the chorus came in with a most impressive double-forte, especially remarkable for an ensemble of 25 voices. The singing that followed was uniformly excellent, boasting all of the core technical values including balance, blend, precision and intonation.

Next came How beautiful are the feet of them who preach the Gospel of peace from Messiah, nicely sung by soprano Agnes Zsigovics. Zsigovics is familiar to most followers of vocal music in these parts, and her rendition on Saturday did not disappoint.

Then there was the anthem The King Shall Rejoice sung by the chorus. Once again the performance was entirely apt and beautiful.

The second half of the program began with tenor Michiel Schrey singing an aria from Handel’s oratorio Israel in Egypt, The Enemy Said. Like Zsigovics, Schrey has sung here frequently and hasn’t even begun to wear out his welcome.

In fact, if you want a hint as to why the chorus was so good, you have only to look at its roster, which includes not only the likes of Schrey and Zsigovics, but also bass-baritone Alexander Dobson, whose rendition of The Trumpet Shall Sound was one of the evening’s highlights. His singing wasn’t all that made it special though, the fellow who sounded the baroque trumpet, Alexis Basque, was superb as well.

The final anthem, My Heart is Inditing, was the most elaborate of the four. In the first place it has four movements, making it the longest of them. Also, it is the only one to employ chorus and soloists. It integrates them well and made for an especially pleasing conclusion to the concert.

 

 

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