The Grimsby Philharmonic Society

WE HAD A MILLENNIUM CELEBRATION

Joseph HaydnJoseph Haydn  (1732 - 1809) 
and "The Seasons"

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The Festival Chorus performed Haydn's The Seasons with the Augmented Lincoln Pro Musica; conductor: David Lawrence on Saturday 30 September 2000 at 7.30 pm in Grimsby Auditorium.

David Lawrence pictureThe Festival Chorus, brought together under the directorship of Jeffery Babb, celebrated the Millennium year with a special performance of Haydn's The Seasons. Consisting of Grimsby Philharmonic Society, Market Rasen and District Choral Society, Grimsby Bach Choir and Franklin College Choir, the Festival Chorus appeared under the baton of David Lawrence, one of Britain's most promising young conductors. David is most widely known as a guest conductor of choirs and small opera companies, and is Founder Director of Music at De Montfort University, Leicester, and Choir Leader of the new City of Birmingham Young Voices.

The Augmented Lincoln Pro Musica Orchestra (Leader, Caroline Siriwardena) was founded in 1964 by Michael Thompson. It was originally formed as a string orchestra but is frequently augmented by other players to perform works from the chamber orchestral repertoire. The members of the orchestra include both professional and amateur musicians. The orchestra has continued to thrive under its present conductor, Martin Stockdale, and has particularly developed towards the Romantic and Twentieth Century repertoire under his baton, as well as maintaining its traditional Baroque and Classical interests.

Haydn turned to compose The Seasons immediately after the tremendous success of The Creation in 1799: it was first performed on 24 April 1801. Afterwards he wrote only some vocal quartets, a fragment of a string quartet and accompaniments to Scottish, Welsh and Irish folk songs, so it is his last major composition and a wonderful work to perform in celebration of the Millennium.

The Seasons, not to be confused with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, is perhaps best described as a choral drama. It tells the story of a year in the life of a small rural community, with three main characters, Simon, Lucas, and Jane, and of course a chorus of villagers. The weather is all-important. From time to time “The fleecy clouds rise up sublime”, or “Flashes of livid flame dart through the air…” during a thunderstorm.

 Tribulations of love between the main characters are interspersed with the keys of the country year: sowing, tilling, harvest. And of course in autumn “The vineyard now its wealth displays”, to be followed by stag hunting and “Come companions, fill the goblet. Hail to the wine!”. Anyone only familiar with Haydn’s sacred oratorios might well be surprised by this lively and entertaining piece, sung in English and said to be set, not in Oklahoma, but in Lower Austria. Sorry you missed this joyful piece, but if you are able to hear music through your browser, what you hear is an arrangement of part 10 of The Seasons, "Endless praise to thee we'll sing", for harpsichord (midi file © Grimsby Philharmonic Society 2000).
 

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1 Oct 2000