Saturday 10 November sees Music at King Charles' third annual Youth Music Showcase, in which talented youngsters from the area have an opportunity to perform in the concert series. It's especially for those who might be considering taking their studies further than school, or those who are just moving on to university or music college. The event has proved most rewarding for all concerned, and inevitably involves an entertainingly diverse programme.
The concert starts at 7:30pm, tickets costing just £10 on the door.
Our final concert of the season is then the organ recital given by Jonathan Hagger, on 25 November at 5:30pm (free, with a retiring collection).
These notes are provided by Michael Bacon, who is the organist for a performance of Duruflé's Requiem at King Charles for All Soul's, this Sunday at 6:30pm. This is a devotional performance in the church's calendar, with no entry charge.
Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986) gained his love of organ music and Gregorian chant while he was a boy in the Cathedral Choir at Rouen. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire before becoming Charles Tournemire’s Assistant Organist at S. Clotilde and he also deputised for Louis Vierne at Notre Dame. In 1930 he was appointed Organist at S. Etienne-du-Mont in Paris, where he remained until his health was ruined in a serious car accident in 1975. Duruflé was Professor of Harmony of the Conservatoire from 1942-1969 and in great demand as a solo virtuoso, touring Europe and the USA many times. As a composer he was highly self-critical and published very few pieces, every one a superbly written model of its kind.
Although he admired his more progressive contemporaries, such as Olivier Messiaen, Duruflé was an ‘innovative traditionalist’, using old forms and ideas and relatively conventional harmonies. Like most French organists, plainsong was the foundation of his style, and he would have spent many hours improvising on it during Mass.
The Requiem was written over three long holidays, while Duruflé spent time with his mother in Louvier after his father’s death in 1945. He had for many years been working on an idea for a set of pieces based on the plainsong for the Mass of the Dead, and it was while working on these that he gradually heard the vocal lines above them. The piece was published in 1947 in two versions: one using full orchestra and another with organ accompaniment (there is also a later version for smaller orchestra).
There are striking similarities with Fauré’s Requiem – a meditative piece which plays down more wrathful aspects (unlike Verdi, and his cataclysmic Dies Irae) – and both end with a very beautiful setting of the In Paradisum from the Burial Service.
‘My Requiem … is entirely composed on Gregorian themes from the Mass of the Dead. At times I have entirely followed the text, with the orchestral part only coming in to support or comment. At other places I have only used it as a guide, or even left it out altogether – as for example in the Domine Jesu Christe, the Sanctus and the Libera Me. As a general rule, I have above all tried to feel deeply the particular style of the Gregorian themes: and I have done my best to reconcile as far as possible the Gregorian rhythmic patterns, as fixed by the Benedictines of Solesmes, with the demands of the modern bar structure. As for the musical form of each of these pieces, it is generally inspired by the relevant liturgical form.