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Content by Eleanor Cowie London Concert Choir

London Concert Choir will be joined by Canticum chamber choir and Southbank Sinfonia, the highly-regarded soprano Claire Seaton and the prize-winning young baritone Thomas Humphreys in a concert of two ultimately hopeful and inspiring works

Richard Strauss was only 25 when he composed his dramatic orchestral tone poem Death and Transfiguration in 1889. It depicts an artist who has striven for the highest ideals and whose journey through life and struggle with death end in peace as his soul finally attains perfection. On his own deathbed 60 years later, Strauss remarked, “Dying is just as I composed it.”

Brahms wrote the German Requiem, one of the truly great choral masterpieces, not as a Mass for the Dead, but to console the living. Instead of setting the traditional text of the Latin liturgy, he chose words from Luther’s German translation of the Bible contrasting the transience of human life with the everlasting nature of God and the joy of the world to come. The Requiem was partly inspired by the death of the composer’s mother and in the serene fifth movement the soprano soloist sings ‘I will comfort you as one whom his own mother comforteth.’ The fourth movement ‘How lovely are Thy dwellings’ is probably the best known. The Requiem evolved over a period of twelve years and was completed in 1868, when Brahms was 36, but first performed in its entirety 150 years ago in 1869.

London Concert Choir is a lively and friendly choir of 150 singers. One of London’s leading amateur choirs, it displays remarkable versatility and expressiveness, performing a wide variety of classical, commissioned and contemporary music concerts, from unaccompanied church music to large-scale choral works, as well as giving concert performances of operas and songs from the shows.

The choir will celebrate its first 60 years in Autumn 2019. Mark Forkgen, who has been the choir’s Music Director since 1996, is also Music Director of Canticum chamber choir, Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of Kokoro (the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s New Music Group) and Director of Music at Tonbridge School. LCC regularly appears with Mark Forkgen at London’s premier concert venues and in cathedrals and churches in and around the capital as well as touring abroad;  its next tour will be to Granada in late May.

In 2014 the choir performed Haydn’s oratorio The Seasons in Assisi and in 2011 joined with the Augsburg Basilica Choir to perform Verdi’s Requiem in the Royal Festival Hall and to take part in the Augsburg Peace Festival.

London Concert Choir’s 50th anniversary in 2010 was marked by two performances of Britten’s War Requiem. Among other major works in recent seasons have been Mozart’s Requiem with the London Mozart Players, Rachmaninov’s choral symphony The Bells with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony, all with Southbank Sinfonia. The Sea Symphony was the main work in a Battle of Jutland centenary concert in 2016 to support maritime charities.

Performances with the Counterpoint period instrument ensemble include Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s St Matthew Passion and Christmas Oratorio, Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 and Schubert’s rarely-heard Mass in E flat. Operas in concert performance have ranged from Gluck’s Orfeo to Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and the London premiere of The Chalk Legend by Stephen McNeff. LCC has also performed Ellington’s Sacred Concert, Will Todd’s Mass in Blue and a concert celebrating Leonard Bernstein’s centenary.

The choir often gives concerts for charity and continues to commission new works. Last season these were A Light not yet Ready to Go Out by Alison Willis, in aid of Breast Cancer Now, and Per Ardua ad Astra, a major work by the baritone Roderick Williams to celebrate the centenary of the RAF.

With a range that embraces Renaissance polyphony, the close harmony of jazz classics and specially commissioned new works, Canticum has impressed audiences and critics with its mix of technical excellence and sheer musicality. Southbank Sinfonia is an orchestra of young professionals described by The Independent as ‘a hugely talented young ensemble whose performances are always theatrical’. It is internationally recognised as a leading orchestral academy, each year bringing together 33 of the world’s most promising graduate musicians to provide a much-needed springboard into the profession.

London Concert Choir

Johannes Brahms: A German Requiem

Richard Strauss: Death & Transfiguration

Monday 4 March, Barbican Hall, 7.30pm

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