25 Dec 2022

Music Alive: Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra - Celebrate Christmas 2022

From Music Alive, 8:00 pm on 25 December 2022

The Auckland Philharmonia celebrates after a hard 2022 and has put together a variety of music to celebrate the stories of Christmas, all the way from Johann Sebastian Bach through to Auckland composer Chris Artley.

Their guests are soprano Anna Leese, the Graduate Choir New Zealand and conductor Benjamin Bayl.

The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra's Celebrate Christmas concert in Holy Trinity Cathedral.

The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra's Celebrate Christmas concert in Holy Trinity Cathedral. Photo: Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra

Complete Concert:

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And the individual works:

BACH: Jauchzet, frohlocket, from Christmas Oratorio

The opening chorus from Bach's Christmas Oratorio begins "Shout for joy, exult, rise up, praise the day".

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BACH: Quia respexit humilitatem, from Magnificat

An aria sung by Anna Leese.

The text taken from the Gospel of Luke in the passage describing Mary’s Visitation to her cousin Elizabeth. Mary is pregnant with Jesus and Elizabeth with John the Baptist. Elizabeth praises Mary’s faith and Mary responds with the Magnificat “My soul doth magnify the Lord.” Then, ‘Quia respexit humilitatem’ ... “For he hath regarded: the lowliness of his handmaiden: For behold, from henceforth: all generations shall call me blessed.”

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BACH: Pastoral Symphony, from Christmas Oratorio

The orchestra returns to the Christmas Oratorio now and the Sinfonia, also known as the Pastoral Symphony, which opens the second cantata of the oratorio. The shepherds are abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

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MENDELSSOHN: Verleih' uns Frieden

This short cantata uses as its text Martin Luther’s version of the Latin prayer Da pacem, Domine ... ‘Grant us peace, o Lord’.

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MOZART: Laudamus te, from Mass in C minor

Anna Leese sings “We praise you, we bless you, we worship you, we glorify you”.

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Chris ARTLEY: The Ashwell Carol

Ashwell is a village in Hertfordshire in England. A spring there is the source of the River Cam which then flows down through Cambridge, the home of so much contemporary British choral writing – in particular David Willcocks and John Rutter, both of whose work we’ll hear later in this concert.

The vicar of St Mary’s Church in Ashwell during the 1950s, John Catterick, wrote the text of The Ashwell Carol, which was published in the Penguin Book of Christmas Carols.

All of this is inspiration for Auckland composer Chris Artley in his own original setting of Catterick’s text.

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MENDELSSOHN: Weihnachten (Christmas)

The first of the Six Motets Op 79.

Rejoice, ye people of the earth, and praise God!
The redeemer is come, whom the Lord has promised.
He has revealed his justice to the world.
Hallelujah!

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PROKOFIEV: Troika, from Lieutenant Kije Suite

Sergei Prokofiev first tried his hand at a film score for the satirical 1934 film Lieutenant Kije. A Christmas sleigh ride by a couple of drunk Russian soldiers is the scene for one of the most famous pieces from the score – the Troika.

The two men seem to be getting rather amorous during the ride, but the sequence ends when one falls out and the other carries on unable to control the horses.

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STRAUSS: Wiegenlied Op 41/1; An die Nacht Op 68/1

Anna Leese sings two songs by Richard Strauss.

Neither is specifically a Christmas song, but both offer mood and imagery appropriate to the season. ‘Wiegenlied’ or ‘Cradle Song’ uses a text by Richard Dehmel, and ‘An die Nacht’, ‘To the Night’ is one of Strauss’s settings of poems by Clemens Brentano. It begins: “Holy night, holy night! Heavenly peace, encircled in stars!”

This audio is not downloadable due to copyright restrictions.

This audio is not downloadable due to copyright restrictions.

TCHAIKOVSKY: The Nutcracker Suite No 1, selections

It’s hard to have an orchestral Christmas concert without something from The Nutcracker – Tchaikovsky’s ballet based on a magical fairy story by E T A Hoffman set on Christmas Eve about a young girl who falls in love with a nutcracker who turns into a prince. It’s a perennial favourite at this time of the year around the world.

The orchestra plays five selections from the ballet: the Miniature Overture, March, the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Trepak and Waltz of the Flowers.

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ADAM arr Ryden: O Holy Night

Originally by the French composer Adolphe Adam with the title Cantique de Noël, the English words are by John Sullivan Dwight.

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John RUTTER: Twelve Days of Christmas

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MENDELSSOHN arr Willcocks: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

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GRUBER arr Maskell: Silent Night

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Recorded by RNZ Concert in Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland, 16 & 17 December 2022
Producer: Tim Dodd
Engineer: Adrian Hollay

 

 

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