LONDON ORIANA CHOIR OPENS 2018/2019 SEASON AT SOUTHWARK CATHEDRAL WITH BACH AND LEADING SUFFRAGETTE COMPOSER ETHEL SMYTH
· Concert at Southwark Cathedral on Saturday 3rd, November
· Pre-concert talk by Dr Christopher Wiley from the University of Surrey on the extraordinary life of Dame Ethel Smyth
· Continues the choir’s commitment to championing the work of women composers under its five15 initiative
For its first concert of the 2018/19 season, the London Oriana Choir is pairing two major choral works written more than a hundred and fifty years apart under compellingly different circumstances, the Magnificat by J S Bach and Mass in D by Ethel Smyth.
First performed in Leipzig in 1733, the Magnificat in D is one of Bach's most popular vocal works, written when the composer was Kantor at the Thomasshule in the city. On the other hand, Ethel Smyth had to contend with opposition from her father to pursue a career in music, ultimately becoming a prolific composer, writing chamber music, choral works and opera, as well as orchestral, piano and vocal pieces.
Born in Kent in 1858, Ethel Smyth was a remarkable woman who lived a rich and varied life in the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th. She also spent time in Leipzig, studying at the University where she met Tchaikovsky, Dvořák, and Grieg. She lived through some of the most turbulent times with regards to women’s rights and was herself a leading suffragette, giving up music for two years to devote herself to the cause. She was the first woman to have an opera performed at Covent Garden in 1902 and at the New York Met in 1903 – it was more than another 100 years before other female composers could claim this honour. In recognition of her work as a composer and writer, Smyth was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1922, becoming the first female composer to be awarded a damehood.
“By performing the rarely-heard Ethel Smyth Mass alongside the Bach Magnificat, we are continuing our commitment to bringing the work of women composers to a wider audience as part of our five15 initiative”, said Dominic Ellis-Peckham, musical director of the London Oriana Choir. “It is a beautiful and sensitive setting of the Mass text, while at the same time full of energetic writing. We are very thrilled to be giving a prominent spotlight marvellous piece and hope that our continued and passionate attention to the work of women composers results in equality for all composers, regardless of gender.”
The concert will take place at Southwark Cathedral at 7.30pm on Saturday 3rd November, together with the Meridian Sinfonia. There is also a pre-concert talk from 6.45pm to 7pm on the extraordinary life of Ethel Smyth by the renowned expert Dr Christopher Wiley from the University of Surrey. Tickets are available from www.londonoriana.com