Three Spires Singers and Orchestra: Baroque Concert

An evening of baroque music: JS Bach’s Cantata No 10, (words from the Magnificat), side by side with Buxtehude’s setting of the same text; Handel’s Dixit Dominus, and his ever-popular orchestral piece The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba. Violinist Philip Montgomery-Smith will also play JS Bach’s E Major Concerto. The conductor will be Christopher Gray.

There will be four outstanding vocal soloists, all with strong connections to Cornwall: soprano Cheryl Rosevear, mezzo soprano Felicity Turner, tenor Joseph Wicks and bass George Clark.

Tickets (£21-£12, under-18’s FREE on the night) : Cornwall Riviera Box Office 01726 879500 or or in person at any Tourist Information Centre (exc Newquay and Padstow)

The name Dietrich Buxtehude may not trip off the tongue as readily as Bach or Handel when we think of Baroque composers, but he was a giant of the European musical world in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. In 1705, the twenty-year-old Bach famously made a pilgrimage to hear the great Buxtehude play in Lübeck, getting in trouble for taking some four months off work when he had agreed just one with his employers in Arnstadt. The first half of the concert will open with Buxtehude’s graceful and beautiful setting of the Magnificat (the ‘Song of Mary’ from St Luke’s gospel that starts “My soul doth magnify the Lord”).

After that Bach’s ‘Fuga sopra il Magnificat’ (Fugue on the Magnificat) will be performed on the cathedral’s Father Willis organ. This five-minute work is saturated with the Gregorian chant ‘Tonus Peregrinus’ which Bach would have sung to Luther’s translation of the Magnificat. The work is mostly played on the organ manuals (i.e. on the keyboards without the pedals) but Bach ends with a magnificent coup de théâtre in which he brings in the pedals thunderously proclaiming the ‘Tonus Peregrinus’ chant very slowly while the flowing counterpoint continues its seemingly independent journey above. The orchestra will then take over to play Handel’s ‘The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba’ which will be familiar to many from its performance as the bride walks down the aisle at a wedding, rather than from its original context as the opening to Act III of the oratorio Solomon.

After the interval Philip Montgomery-Smith will take the solo role in Bach's lively Violin Concerto in E.

Bach’s cantata no 10, ‘Meine seele erhebt den Herren’ which dates from 1724 will end the first half. Like the ‘Fuga sopra il Magnificat’, this cantata is based on Luther’s translation of the Magnificat and includes the ‘Tonus Peregrinus’ Gregorian chant.

The evening ends with an ebullient, virtuosic jewel in the crown of the Baroque period, Handel’s ‘Dixit Dominus'. This thirty-minute setting of Psalm 110 was composed when Handel was only 22 years old. It is bursting with musical invention and vitality, and you can almost sense Handel’s excitement at being in Italy for the first time and his delight at the enthusiasm with which he was received.