PAST PERFORMANCES 2011-2015

2014/15 SEASON

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Songs of Farewell

Friday 3rd July 2015, St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, London
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Londinium performed Hubert Parry's masterpiece and swansong, the glorious Songs of Farewell. Written during the First World War, these achingly beautiful settings of the metaphysical poets rate amongst the finest of all English choral music. Parry's love of German culture no doubt made the conflict all the more painful; the influence of Brahms shines through his music, and his virtuosic Fest- und Gedenksprüche was sung, together with the exquisitely subtle Vier doppelchörige Gesänge of Brahms' great friend, Robert Schumann. The programme was completed by William Harris' ravishing double-choir setting of Spenser, Faire is the Heaven.
Andrew Griffiths conductor


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Once Upon a Time

Friday 15th May 2015, St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, London
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A  world of fairy-tale, fable, myth and legend peopled by Alice in Wonderland, Ariadne, the King of Thule, Orpheus, Bunyan's Pilgrim, Robin Hood and more. Remarkable fauna -  the Unicorn, Crocodile, Phoenix and Hydra - were found alongside the Ant and the Grasshopper, brought to life in choral music spanning six centuries. Highlights included exquisite madrigals by Monteverdi, beautiful folksongs by Brahms, a remarkable cantata by Martinu and Vaughan Williams' Valiant-for-truth, alongside works by Josquin, Weelkes, Schumann, Gounod, H. Garrett Phillips, David Del Tredici and Ola Gjeilo. Review: ‘They performed the Vaughan Williams as though it had been written for them.’ (Hilary Glover, planethugill.com)
Andrew Griffiths conductor


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Rachmaninoff Vespers (All-Night Vigil)

Saturday 7th February 2015, St Andrew Holborn, London
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In celebration of the hundredth anniversary of its première, Londinium performed one of the greatest of all a cappella choral works: Rachmaninoff's magnificent All-Night Vigil. This monumental setting, enveloping ancient Church Slavonic chant in music of unparalleled richness, was Rachmaninoff's last major work before leaving Russia. It also represents both the final flowering and greatest achievement of the Russian Orthodox tradition before its suppression after the October Revolution. The concert opened with Knut Nystedt's haunting O Crux, performed in memory of its composer whose hundredth birthday would have fallen in 2015.
Andrew Griffiths conductor


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A Boy Was Born

Friday 12th December 2014, St Mary-at-Hill, London
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A vibrant Christmas programme offered a delicious selection of festive music old and new, familiar and invigorating. Long-established favourites, including Leighton's Lully, Lulla, Cornelius' The Three Kings and Darke's In the Bleak Midwinter (newly arranged for this concert by Jim Clements), rubbed shoulders with miniature gems by Praetorius, Sweelinck, Warlock and Gabriel Jackson. These carols mirrored the texts found in the dazzling and virtuosic set of choral variations: A Boy Was Born, the first major work for choir by the precociously-talented nineteen-year-old Benjamin Britten.
Andrew Griffiths conductor


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FGSJ 20th Anniversary concert

Saturday 25th October 2014, St James's Sussex Gardens, London
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Ariel Ramirez’s Misa Criolla was the centrepiece of a concert for the Friends of the Georgian Society of Jamaica, in a programme also featuring music by the contemporary Jamaican composers Eleanor Alberga (My Heart Danceth), Noel Dexter, Andrew Marshall and Olive Lewin, together with the 19-century Frederic Cowen. Londinium also sang one of the classics of English a cappella repertoire, Michael Tippett's much-loved Five Spirituals from his oratorio A Child of Our Time.
Christopher Diffey tenor | Carlos Muñoz Villalobos charango | Leo Turner Spanish guitar | Armando Murillo percussion
Andrew Griffiths conductor


2013/14 SEASON

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Scenes from Nature

Wednesday 2nd July 2014, St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, London
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A programme devised for the Art Fund celebrated the beauty of the natural world, partnered with specially chosen images of Art-Funded paintings. Lyrical works by Vaughan Williams, Finzi, Howells and Moeran contrasted with exquisite miniatures by Brahms and Hindemith and the ravishing sound-worlds of Saint-Saëns and Ravel. Andrew Griffiths conductor


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Ruffs and Remedies

Friday 6th June 2014, St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, London
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A varied and vivacious summer programme took a sideways look at the English Madrigal, exploring twentieth-century responses to the Elizabethan tradition. Ernest Moeran was amongst four British composers paying affectionate tribute: his superb Phyllida and Corydon was heard alongside Thea Musgrave's pithy Four Madrigals by Thomas Wyatt, whilst Herbert Howells' early Two Madrigals and Robert Pearsall's delicious pastiche Lay a Garland offered sunshine aplenty. Madrigals by three Americans: Ned Rorem, Elliott Carter, and William Schuman, whose wicked Mail Order Madrigals are settings of quack advertisements from an 1897 Sears catalogue, provided an invigorating counterpoint.
Andrew Griffiths conductor


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Ruins and Reflections

Wednesday 16th April 2014, St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, London
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A Holy Week concert of composers' responses to the Book of Lamentations, including those of Byrd, a Catholic in a Protestant land, Ginastera, blacklisted by Perón’s Argentina, and Mauersberger, mourning Dresden's devastation. Contemporary responses included Nico Muhly's Recordare, Domine (2013; UK premiere) and two 2012 works, Gabriel Jackson's Lamentations of Jeremiah and Cecilia McDowall's The Lord of Good, of which she said: 'The two soloists brought an ethereal quality to a powerful, yet most poignant performance'. Milhaud's superb, rarely-performed cantata Les Deux Cités, completed the journey. The concert was also praised in a review by Hilary Glover (planethugill.com).
Andrew Griffiths conductor


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Chansonnerie

Friday 7th February 2014, St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, London
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Londinium explored of the heady world of secular French choral music, including vividly-coloured chansons by Renaissance composers and a cappella masterpieces by twentieth-century masters including Ravel, Poulenc, and Milhaud.  A truly seductive programme was completed with French-language works by the German composer Paul Hindemith and the American Morten Lauridsen. Review: 'Londinium with their conductor Andrew Griffiths are well known for their quality performances and this foray into French music did not disappoint...They also know how to put on a show and get the best from their singers...[the] choir is definitely one to watch' (Hilary Glover, planethugill.com)
Andrew Griffiths conductor


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Magnificat!

Friday 13 December 2013, St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, London
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Londinium's Advent programme was inspired by the Magnificat, the Virgin Mary's great hymn of praise. Praetorius' festive eight-part setting, interwoven with traditional German carols, contrasted with Giles Swayne's classic Magnificat I, based on Senegalese chanting, and the mystical Orthodox visions of Tavener and Rachmaninoff. As a counterpoint Londinium performed exquisitely-textured settings of the great "O Antiphons" - traditionally paired with the Magnificat in Advent - by modern masters Arvo Pärt and Bob Chilcott. Beautiful miniatures by Eccard and the young Benjamin Britten, in his centenary year, completed the picture: a fascinating and rewarding musical journey.
Andrew Griffiths conductor


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Passion and Piety

Friday 4th October 2013, St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, London
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In a thrilling contrast, Londinium brought together Carlo Gesualdo, famed for both the murder of his wife and his extraordinary, harmonically revolutionary music, and the Swiss composer Frank Martin. Gesualdo's madrigals were sung alongside Stravinsky’s whimsical re-compositions of his incomplete motets and Peter Warlock’s luscious The Full Heart, dedicated to Gesualdo's memory.  Passion of a different kind was found in the Mass for Double Choir (1922) by Martin. A luminous and intensely personal work kept hidden for forty years, it is one of the summits of a cappella repertoire, fit to stand beside the motets of his idol, J S Bach.
Andrew Griffiths conducto


2012/13 SEASON

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Beyond the Horizon

Friday 12th July 2013, St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, London
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A journey into the unknown ranging from 17th-century madrigals by Weelkes and Wilbye, through part-songs by Schumann, Brahms and Elgar, to the music of modern-day composers Richard Rodney Bennett, Thea Musgrave, Steve Martland and Eric Whitacre. It took in the dream-world of The Tempest, the imaginary sunken city of Vineta, the far north of Thule, and the musings of an astronaut. Modes of travel included the London Underground in its anniversary year and the imagined inventions of a Renaissance genius pondering human flight.  Londinium also premiered an arrangement of Vaughan Williams' The Vagabond (from 'Songs of Travel') written for the choir by acclaimed young composer Jim Clements.
Andrew Griffiths conductor


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Revelations

Friday 22nd March 2013, St Mary-at-Hill, London
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A diverse and richly textured programme explored the power of mystical texts, including music by Peter Philips, Stravinsky, Messiaen, Byrd, Tallis, Ned Rorem and, in memory of Jonathan Harvey, The Angels and Come, Holy Ghost. The luscious, Messiaen-tinged Hildegard Triptych by American composer Frank Ferko was performed alongside Hildegard's own O Virtus Sapientiae. Running as a counterpoint throughout the programme were extracts from the Prophetiae Sibyllarum: remarkable, chromatic 16th-century settings by Lassus of the prophecies of the Greek Sibyls. The conclusion was the London première of James MacMillan's Alpha and Omega (2011): the beginning and the end, both celebratory and apocalyptic.
Andrew Griffiths conductor


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Britten in America

Tuesday 29th January 2013, St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, London
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Marking the 2013 Britten centenary, Londinium explored his formative years living in America (1939-1942), with music by American composers - including his two major choral works from those years, A.M.D.G. and Hymn to St Cecilia. The programme included Aaron Copland’s In the Beginning and music by Samuel Barber, Randall Thompson and Charles Ives. Review: ‘A.M.D.G. is, however, a terrific piece if taken on its own terms and one which gives the choir a chance to shine, which Londinium did quite brilliantly. Their performance of the whole work was a tour de force, and it was presented with a confidence, firmness and vividness which was altogether admirable.’ (Robert Hugill, planethugill.com)
Carris Jones mezzo-soprano | Andrew Griffiths conductor
 


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Toward the Dawn: Songs of Night & Light & the Half-Light

Friday 26th October 2012, St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, London
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A lyrical journey through the night. Nightfall is shadowy (Ligeti's Night, Judith Bingham's Distant Thunder, Tallis's Te Lucis ante Terminum) but also a sanctuary (Wilbye's Draw on Sweet Night), with metaphors of the afterlife (Parry's My Soul there is a Country, Leighton's Evening Hymn). Night-time may be full of dreams, (Schubert's Nacht und Träume, Howard Skempton's He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven), seductive (Orlando di Lasso's Toutes les nuits) or fearful (Elgar's haunting Owls); but morning comes (Peteris Vasks' Mate Saule) and the light of day (Monteverdi's Ecco mormorar l'onde), brings intimations of eternal light (James MacMillan's O Radiant Dawn) and the busy daytime sounds of Ligeti's Morning.
Andrew Griffiths conductor


2011/12 SEASON

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Flights of Angels: Music for the Departing Soul

Tuesday 10th July 2012, St George's Bloomsbury, London
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Pizzetti's unaccompanied Requiem of 1922 is one of the choral masterpieces of the 20th century, but a rarely heard one. In the year of its 90th anniversary, Londinium performed this operatic, eerie and triumphant work alongside music of lamentation and mourning by Josquin Desprez (Nymphes des Bois), Robert Ramsey (How are the Mighty Fallen), Mendelssohn (Mitten wir im Leben sind), Vaughan Williams (Valiant-for-Truth) and John Tavener (Song for Athene). This concert of expressive, moving and dramatic choral writing for unaccompanied voices traced the journey of the soul from the body to the 'other side', assisted by flights of angels.
Stephen Farr conductor


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Hidden Voices: the World of Johannes Brahms

Friday 30th March 2012, St George's Bloomsbury; Sunday 13th May 2012, St Augustine One Tree Hill, London
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Fünf Gesänge op.104, Fest- und Gedenksprüche, Ich aber bin elend, Marienlieder and Vineta partnered music from Brahms' personal library - Gabrieli (Sanctus à 12 from the 1615 'Symphoniae Sacrae'), Eccard (Übers Gebirg Maria geht and Maria wallt zum Heiligtum) and Schütz (Singet dem Herrn from the 1619 'Psalms of David') - and by his contemporaries Schumann (An die Sterne), and Peter Cornelius (Requiem "Seele, vergiß sie nicht"). Londinium also premiered Timothy Burke's Distanz und ein bestimmtes Licht ('Distance and a Certain Light'), inspired by Fünf Gesänge and written especially for this concert.
Andrew Griffiths conductor


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The Elements: Songs of the Earth, the Air, Fire and Water

Thursday 9th February 2012, Holy Trinity Sloane Square, London
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The four classical elements – Earth, Air, Fire and Water – were explored in contrasting motets and part-songs. Earth is the stony ground of burial in Howells’ sombre motet Take him, Earth, for Cherishing; Air is the sound of the trumpet in Tippett’s exuberant Dance, Clarion Air; Fire is the tempestuousness of human passion in Lauridsen’s extraordinary, rarely performed Madrigali: Six Fire Songs on Italian Renaissance Poems; and Water can be mellifluous (Victoria’s Super flumina babylonis), sonorous (Eric Whitacre’s Water Night) or serene (Stanford’s The Blue Bird, reinterpreted in Judith Bingham’s The Drowned Lovers). All of the natural world was celebrated in Mendelssohn’s exquisite part-songs, Lieder im Freien zu singen.
Stephen Farr conductor


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Fire and Ice

Tuesday 15th November 2011, Holy Trinity Sloane Square, London
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Celebrating the 400th anniversary of the death of Tomás Luis de Victoria, Londinium performed one of the greatest achievements of Spanish polyphany, his Officium defunctorum ('Requiem'). In thrilling contrast, sun-drenched Spain was exchanged for the chilly north in music from Finland, Denmark, Estonia and Latvia. Mäntyjärvi's Canticum Calamitatis Maritimae hauntingly responds to the MS Estonia ferry tragedy, using psalm, Requiem mass and radio broadcast texts. Nørgård's Winter Hymn meditated on the passing of time, while Arvo Pärt’s Da pacem Domine (2004) pleaded for peace. Finally, Vasks' dazzling Mate Saule (1977) brought us full circle, summoning up the figure of Mother Sun 'like eternity – on the threshold'.
Andrew Griffiths conductor