Choral Society set to perform Dvorak’s moving Stabat Mater

Mike Christie. Picture by Mitzi de Margary
Mike Christie. Picture by Mitzi de Margary
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Dvorak’s Stabat Mater is a most appropriate work to be performed on Palm Sunday, March 29 (7.30pm), in the inspiring atmosphere of Ardingly College Chapel.

Ardingly Choral Society, under the direction of Robert Hammersley, will perform this most moving of choral works in conjunction with Mid-Sussex Sinfonia, led by Martin Palmer.

The text of the Stabat Mater was written in the thirteenth century. It has been set to music many times but never so engagingly as the setting by Dvorak. This may well be attributed to the fact that all three of his children had died between 1875 and 1877 as the poem portrays the grief of Jesus’s mother Mary witnessing his agonising death. The opening starts gently as we see her standing by the cross, building up to the first magnificent climax. The alto, sung by local singer Jane Haughton, joined by tenor Lawrence Olsworth-Peter, bass Michael Christie and finally soprano Sally Harrison then all commiserate with Mary.

The chorus sings the well-known ‘Eia Mater’ followed by the bass accompanied by the uplifting voices of the female voices. Another chorus is succeeded by the male voices backing up the glorious tenor solo ‘Fac me verum’ with some very dramatic writing. A lovely soprano and alto duet, an alto solo and a final chorus bring all the performers together in a most powerful and moving conclusion.

The soloists will be well-known to regular concert goers in Mid-Sussex.

Jane Haughton and Lawrence Olsworth-Peter have strong local connections and Michael Christie was at Ardingly College as one of Robert Hammersley’s top music scholars, being a finalist in the first X-Factor competition with the classic-pop group G4. Sally Harrison (another protégé of Robert) has sung internationally for a number of years. Tickets cost £14 (concessions £12) and are available from Carousel Music and Michael Kershaw (01825 791241) or at the door. Further information can be found at www.ardinglychoralsociety.org.uk.