The Summer Festival of Sacred Music at St. Bart's continues on Sunday, September 9 at 11 am with a service featuring Howells' An English Mass.
The music of HerBert Howells (1892-1982) may be considered the pinnacle of English Romanticism. He studied at the Royal College of Music in London with Charles Villiers Stanford, C. Hubert H. Parry and Charles Wood, three very influential teachers in the early 20th century. Howells' output includes an entire corpus of Anglican works composed for the most renowned choirs in Great Britain and tailored to the buildings in which these choirs were in residence. Like his colleague, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Howells felt an affinity with music of the Tudor period and his rapport with the music of that time is particularly evident in his works although transmuted into Howells' characteristically rich harmonic style and plasticity of meter and rhythm. In 1935, Howells lost his nine year old son, Michael, to spinal meningitis, an event which shattered his life and, after a long period of silence, affected his compositions for the remainder of his life.
An English Mass was composed for Harold Darke and the St. Michael's Singers, Cornhill in 1955. It is scored for choir, organ and strings. With the exception of the Kyrie, it takes its text from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, hence its title. The work is infused with the intensity and harmonic richness characteristic of Howells' music following the death of his son.
St. Bartholomew's Choir will be accompanied by Paolo Bordignon, organist and an orchestra of strings. William K. Trafka will conduct.
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