Come and join us in Southsea on Sat 11 July for an eclectic mix of sensuous choral music.

The programme, entitled “East meets West”, features selections from Rachmaninov’s Vespers (sung in Russian) and the “New World Carols” by the prolific American composer, Carson Cooman. The Vespers are a delicious blend of dark romantic harmonies, along with Rachmaninov’s signature use of the basso profundo (the incredibly low-pitched singing found in Russian music).

Conductor Peter Gambie is using this programme as metaphor to show the futility of the sabre-rattling which the two world super-powers engage in from time-to-time. In the programme, Russian and American composers show their wish for peace, for love and for human compassion, rather than the more blinkered view of some of the political establishment.

Also featured in the programme is Arvo Pärt’s Beatitudes, which is a favourite of choral music lovers. This prayer for peace is set using Pärt’s very sparse composing style, known as minimalism.

The choir will be performing Jonathan Dove’s “Seek Him that maketh the seven stars”, which is a joyful, uplifting setting of Psalm 139. The organ part, with its sparkling use of high registers, subtly evokes the stars.

Come and listen to William Byrd’s Ne irascaris Domine [Do not be angry, Lord] double motet – a forceful utterance of desolation inspired by the fate of the Catholic Church in England at the time of the Reformation.

Finally there is Philip Moore’s hauntingly beautiful “I saw him standing as a shadow”. The words are a translation, by Rowan Williams, of a Welsh hymn by Anne Griffiths. She was a farmer’s wife without formal education, who died in 1805. She wrote a small number of hymns that are remarkable for their bold and extravagant imagery and sustained emotional density. This piece, regarded as one of the most challenging in the choral repertoire, was one of the reasons cited for the Portsmouth News’s Best Classical Music Act award to the choir. The nomination indicated that the choir’s imaginative programming was one of the reasons for this prestigious award.

See our concert page for further information.