Eternal Light and more: Exmouth Choral Society’s 2019 programme

Exmouth Choral Society is about to kick-off its new singing term with a programme of 20th century choral works.

The group is based in Exmouth – a seaside town on the south Devon coast – and draws enthusiastic singers from the town itself, along the Jurassic Coast, from both sides of the River Exe estuary, and around East Devon.

A change of direction

Our February programme was a jolly, baroque affair. Vivaldi’s setting of Dixit Dominus (RV 595) and Purcell’s ode ‘Come ye sons of art’ were both framed by lively baroque masterpieces from J.S.Bach, namely his Cantata 191 ‘Gloria in excelsis Deo’ and the setting of the Magnificat.

The new term brings some considerable choral contrast!

[if you want to skip the writing, then head to the bottom of this page for a Spotify playlist of the works we’re learning]

Choral settings of beautiful poetry

‘Wonderful words’ is the theme which binds together this session’s music. Firstly, Benjamin Britten’s cantata ‘Rejoice in the Lamb’, which sets text from a substantial poem of the same name by the 18th century poet Christopher Smart.

Howard Goodall was commissioned by London Music to write a work for that group’s 20th anniversary. Conceived as both a choral-orchestral-dance and choral-orchestral work (we will be performing it as the latter!) ‘Eternal Light: A Requiem’ brings together words of the Latin Mass and poetry by, amongst others, Francis Quarles, Ann Thorp and Phineas Fletcher.

Eric Whitacre has taken the choral world by storm, known primarily for the lush harmonies of his a cappella works. ‘The Seal Lullaby’ is a short but beautiful piece that sets words by Rudyard Kipling. Sharks and seals might not be the most obvious visitors to this part of the world, but it gives the choir a chance to sing some of Whitacre’s music [You can read about the piece’s story here.]

Finally, Vaughan Williams’ ‘Five Mystical Songs’ – four poems by George Herbert (the first, ‘Easter’, is divided in two) for baritone, choir and orchestra.