Britten's 'Saint Nicolas' - A Choral Invitation
Take part in a unique, choral celebration of the 2008/2009 Christmas cycle
Leave aside, for the time being, images of jolly, red-coated, black-booted, white-bearded, sleigh-driving stereotypes. For the real story of the legendary "Santa Claus" as recounted by Benjamin Britten, Saint Nicolas, has it all. A magnificent cantata involving not just one but two choirs, a tenor and four treble soloists, and an orchestra with percussion and strings, a great organ, a piano duet and a brilliant libretto. Add the masterly touch of one of the nation's most dynamic conductors, whose infectious enthusisam for the work knows no bounds, then the opportunity to take part is truly irrestistible.
Gillian Dibden, the director of music and conductor, will begin preparation and rehearsal of the main chorus with the Marlow Community Choir at Borlase, on the 17th September 2008, in time for a perfomance of the work at the All Saints Church, Boyn Hill, Maidenhead on Saturday 31st January 2009.
Other treats are in store for the start of the festive season, with carefully selected Christmas Choruses, Carols and Festive Part Songs for an informal, festive evening on 10th December 2009, a few days after the Feast of St Nicolas.
Saint Nicolas was Britten's first large-scale work, dating back to 1948, written with mainly amateur performers in mind. It tells the story of the life and the achievements of Nicolas, the 4th-century bishop of Myra, in Asia Minor. The miracle, for which Nicolas is best remembered, was how he restored to life three young boys who had been pickled in brine by a wicked butcher. This story led to the tradition of giving presents to deserving children. As the Feast of St. Nicolas falls on the 6th of December, we can imagine how the popular image of St. Nicolas gradually evolved into the much-loved figure of Santa Claus, as celebrated throughout Europe.
The Saint Nicolas cantata wonderfully captures the essence of this story with a series of dramatic movements to which the performers and the audience can easily relate.
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