Director’s Notes February 2009

It is 200 years since the death of Joseph Haydn and we are delighted to be able to present his masterpiece, The Creation as our first concert of the year. Written in his mature years, the oratorio was first performed in at the Palace of Prince Schwarzenburg in 1798 and it proved to be a real hit, right from the outset. Further performances followed rapidly. However in 1799 in Vienna it was performed in Vienna and people battled for seats hours before the start of the performance – we hope for the same problem at St Asaph Cathedral on Saturday 4 April. There is a superb line up of soloists and the best players of the North Wales Philharmonia joining us on this occasion.

Haydn was bowled over by some large scale performances of Handel’s Messiah and Israel in Egypt in London in 1791 and this gave him the impulse to set pen to paper. The libretto originally in German comes both from the book of Genesis and also parts of Milton’s Paradise Lost. It was, though, the first oratorio to be published in two languages in the score as an English version was included too. We will be singing the English version in our performance. Much Handelian inspiration can be heard in the great choruses, but the composer’s voice is always present too. The work opens with a representation of chaos – an orchestral prelude in which some of the harmony looks forward to Wagner and is highly imaginative in many ways. The first recitative and chorus then contain one of the most striking moment in choral music up to that point where the universe comes into being and God created light.

While the number of choruses is not huge, there are some wonderful pieces of colourful composition and the solo arias set the scene with imagination and deep beauty.

The choir hopes you will enjoy this special commemorative performance and we look forward to seeing you at the concert. We are happy to welcome new members to the choir in all voice parts – do look at the membership section of the website for further details.

Graham Eccles.