The Victoria Consort performed a concert on Saturday 8th March of Passiontide music associated with Rome’s Sistine Chapel. The audience spilled from the nave into the south aisle; the choir performed in front of the altar.
The theme of the concert was to progress through the ceremonies of the Easter Triduum, in particular Good Friday. The Rector of St. Augustine’s, Fr. Marcus Holden, introduced each piece of music with sentences about the composer and a translation of the Latin words. As the <i>Stabat Mater</i> finished the choir rearranged themselves for Victoria’s <i>Lamentations</i>, associated with Tenebrae. Fr. Marcus explained that traditionally this is sung before the ‘banging of the books’: with the church in darkness the books would be banged to represent thunder and shaking of the earth at Jesus’ death. The music was haunting, and one could almost hear the weeping and sorrowing that it represents.
After more music, including Palestrina’s <i>Adoramus Te Christe</i>, the choir splitting in two – one part standing in the Lady Chapel, hidden from the audience in the nave, and the other part of the choir remaining at the altar. The music echoed down the south aisle from the Lady Chapel, joining the full volume of the main choir. Then Lotti’s <i>Crucifixus</i> was sung, which Fr. Marcus noted is almost visual in its representation of the Cross being raised higher and higher. Finally, Allegri’s <i>Miserere</i> crowned the evening with each top note hit perfectly.
Before the <i>Miserere</i>, Fr. Marcus thanked the Victoria Consort, who are well known at St. Augustine’s as they often provide music for Masses at the church. They will be singing a concert at the start of St. Augustine Week in Ramsgate on 25th May, as well as for St. Augustine Week Masses on 26th and 29th May. At the end of the Miserere, Victoria Consort left to enthusiastic applause.
The last of the Pugin Birthday Concerts 2014 will be this Saturday – 15th March – at 7.30pm, given by the Thames Chamber Choir. Tickets are £10 (£7.50 concessions).