Saturday, 25th November, 2017 at 7:30pm, Shoreditch Town Hall 380 Old Street, London EC1V 9LT

(Please note that this concert has now taken place.)

Following our highly successful and musically inspiring exchange with Cantus Domus (Berlin) in 2013-14, we continue our 40th anniversary season with another international collaboration, this time with a choir from Switzerland, Contrapunto Chor, which also happens to be celebrating its 30th birthday. We will be performing with them in the Citykirche St. Jakob, Zürich on 11 November but our UK audience will have an opportunity to hear us in our debut at Shoreditch Town Hall on Saturday 25 November.

Our programme features music that explores the magic and mysticism of the forest at night. The centrepiece is Mendelssohn’s Die erste Walpurgisnacht, which sets Goethe’s poem of the same name as a secular cantata for soloists, choir and orchestra. Goethe specifically wrote this text to be set to music, and Mendelssohn took it up in 1830 but was not performed until 1843. The story tells how a prank allows a local tradition to take place despite opposition from an intolerant new regime. The Druids and local heathen want to celebrate May Day but this has been forbidden. A comic solution emerges as a Druid watchman suggests a masquerade of the Devil, spirits, and demons to frighten the occupying Christians. They are duly scared away, and the Druids and heathen are left to celebrate spring and the sunrise.

Zürich-based Contrapunto Chor specialises in 19th and 20th Century English music, and to contrast with the Mendelssohn we have chosen another piece that is new to both choirs. In Windsor Forest, a rarely performed cantata by Vaughan Williams, draws on material from his Shakespearean opera Sir John in Love. The “Sir John” of the title is, of course, Falstaff, and the five movements describe various episodes from The Merry Wives of Windsor including the scene at Herne’s Oak when the locals pretend to be ghosts and fairies and spirits to punish Sir John for his lechery.

Our third choral piece will receive its world premiere in Zürich and its UK premiere at our London concert. Composed and conducted by Beat Dähler, Contrapunto’s Musical Director, to mark the coming together of our two choirs, Byzantium – A Choral Cantata is a setting of WB Yeats' enigmatic and evocative poem. The programme is completed by Saint-Saëns’s orchestral tone-poem, Danse Macabre.

We are joined by a three distinguished international soloists, Emma Carrington, Colin Judson and James Cleverton and by our regular orchestra, the Meridian Sinfonia.

Sitting at the heart of one of the most vibrant areas of London, adjacent to Hoxton Square and just minutes from Liverpool Street, Shoreditch Town Hall is a magnificent Grade II landmark building managed by Shoreditch Town Hall Trust. Built in 1865, and with a heritage as one of the grandest Vestry Halls in London, it was established as an independent arts and events venue in 2004 and NLC is delighted to be appearing there for the first time.

Murray Hipkin – conductor
Emma Carrington – mezzo-soprano
Colin Judson – tenor
James Cleverton – baritone