Music for Royal Occasions

This concert will be a right royal romp!  Handel’s Coronation Anthems are a collection of four and they were designed to be played at the coronation of the British monarch.  Zadok the Priest, Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened, The King Shall Rejoice, and My Heart Is Inditing are the four titles and the best known at this present time is of course, Zadok.

With words adapted from the first chapter of the First Book of Kings Zadok opens with a tour de force that no degree of familiarity can stale.  There is little harmonic surprise and the piece is firmly rooted in the tonic D major (the key dictated by the old valveless trumpets): thus Zadok is a supreme example of Handel’s power to make a unique statement by the simplest means. The words of Zadok the Priest have been sung at every coronation since that of King Edgar in 973AD, and Handel’s setting has been sung at every one since 1727.

Let Thy Hand be Strengthened was written for the Coronation of King George II in 1727.

The King Shall Rejoice uses a text from Psalm 21 and Handel sets each of the four sentences and the final Allelujah as separate musical sections.

My Heart is Inditing is an adapted and abridged text using verses from Psalms 45 and Isaiah 49, and is a coronation text that Purcell had set for the service in 1685. In 1727 it was sung late in the service when Queen Caroline was crowned, and throughout Handel’s setting are references in the words that are relevant to a queen.

There will also be two settings of “When David Heard“, one by Thomas Weelkes (1575-1623) organist of Chichester Cathedral and the other by Thomas Tomkins (1572-1656).The text is the well-known story of David’s grief at the death of his son Absalom as related in 2 Samuel 18:33

Thomas Weelkes is best known for his vocal music, especially his madrigals and church music. He wrote more Anglican services than any other major composer of the time, mostly for Evensong. Many of his anthems are verse anthems, which would have suited the small forces he was writing for at Chichester Cathedral.

Thomas Tomkins was a master of the verse anthem, a form alternating sections for one or more soloists with full choral writing and was one of the major composers for music for the Anglican church in the 17th century. However, When David Heard, one of his masterpieces, falls into the category of full anthem.

Stockport Symphony Orchestra will perform from Handel’s oratorio Samson the Overture and the popular “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba”

November 2018 amended

It is also promised that there will be two versions of “I was Glad” but this is to be confirmed.

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