Prepping for Purcell

Henry Purcell: Royal Odes and Anthems

Henry Purcell: Royal Odes and Anthems concert is next weekend!

Enough of this jet lag! Just yesterday, I figured that I’d better start working on the music for next weekend’s Early Music Hawaii concert, especially since I was to attend my first rehearsal last night. The concert features Scott Fikse conducting the Early Music Hawaii Singers and Players and will take place at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, Saturday, September 16 at 7:30 pm.

“We celebrate England’s greatest 17th century composer with his magnificent Ode welcoming King James II to London and the first of the famous Birthday Odes for his beloved patron Queen Mary.” That’s what Ian Capps, president of Early Music Hawaii, wrote as a description for this concert. In addition to two Royal Odes, the group will also perform Purcell’s Bell Anthem: Rejoice in the Lord alway; Remember not O Lord; I was Glad; and excerpts from Dido and Aeneas, including the famous lament.

Scott Fikse rehearses his solo with Jieun Newland and Sung Chan.

Local singers will be Georgine Stark, Taylor Ishida, Naomi Castro, Sarah Lambert Connelly, Karol Nowicki, Keane Ishii, Bowe Souza, Mitchell Moriwaki and Scott Fikse. The local “Continuo Contingent,” one of our biggest ever, will include Luke Trimble on lute, Sung Chan on cello, Jieun Newland on harpsichord, and myself on organ. What a great group!

Luckily, I found excellent recordings on YouTube of the two major works we are performing: Now does the Glorious Day Appear and Why are the Muses Mute? (Thank God for YouTube! It’s one of the quickest ways I know to learn new music!)

Here’s a little sample of “Why are the Muses Mute” to whet your appetite. The recording is part of a CD by a British group called “Tragicomedia,” and features singers Suzie Le Blanc, and Barbara Borden, soprano; Steve Dugardin, alto; Douglas Nasrawi, tenor; Harry van der Kamp, and Simon Grant, bass.

As their CD is available on Amazon, there is only one review, but it’s so hilarious I’d like to share it with you. It is rated 5 out of 5 stars with the title, Ravishing.

The singers are nothing less than sublime, without a trace of the Brit fuddy-duddy vibe that has afflicted other recordings of these works. So because of them this is the first time I have really enjoyed these works throughly. In fact Nasrawi’s voice, singing in Latin no less, is perhaps the sexiest-sounding male voice I have ever heard in my whole life… a Purcell elegy for the Queen in Latin that brings out the almost erotic sinews of this fellow’s amazingly gorgeous voice. Listening to it bestirs me in a way that serious music never does in fact. It must be heard to be believed, so beautiful. 

As an aside, did you know that Henry Purcell died at the very young age of 35 or 36? According to Wikipedia: “Purcell died in 1695 at his home in Marsham Street, at the height of his career. He is believed to have been 35 or 36 years old at the time. The cause of his death is unclear: one theory is that he caught a chill after returning home late from the theatre one night to find that his wife had locked him out.” (Wow!)

Whatever, he composed beautiful music in his short career, and I urge you to mark your calendars to attend this concert. Tickets are available at the door or at the Early Music Hawaii website.

About Katherine Crosier

In addition to playing the organ I am interested in documenting life's special moments through journaling, scrapbooking, photography and slideshow production. My family just groans.
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