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Chroma presents Bach Magnificat

Chroma presents Bach Magnificat, 2pm 18 November, Nelson School of Music Auditorium

Nelson’s Chroma Chamber Choir is presenting a programme of Renaissance and Baroque choral music to celebrate the Advent season, leading up to Christmas.

Choir member Mary Celeste says while the twelve movement Magnificat, one of JS Bach’s best-loved choral works, is at the heart of the concert, the programme also features other works by JS Bach, and works by other composers.

“This is a rare opportunity to hear Bach sung by Nelson’s foremost classical choir and promises to be a real treat for lovers of Baroque music,” Mary Celeste said. “Chroma is known for its precision, clarity and beautiful sound, and this will be a glorious concert in the refurbished Nelson School of Music Auditorium.”

Conducted by Pete Rainey, the Chroma Chamber Choir will be accompanied by a chamber orchestra; and local soloists Angela Wratt, Zoe Bennett and Jane Quinton (soprano), Erica Sim (alto), Ewen Griffiths (tenor) and Graham O'Brien (bass).

Mary Celeste says the featured work The Magnificat is conceived on a grand scale, requiring five soloists, a five-part choir and, for its time, an unusually large orchestra consisting of three trumpets, two flutes, two oboes, strings and continuo.

“It begins with a brilliant orchestral introduction in which the trumpets feature prominently, leading directly into an equally impressive first chorus, Magnificat anima mea Dominum (My soul doth magnify the Lord),” she said. “ The whole is an exhilarating and innovative ride through swift contrasts, alive with freshness and vitality.”

The concert features choruses from Cantata BWV 140 Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, (also known as Sleepers Wake) which includes the famous watchman’s song, in the style of a chorale prelude sung by the altos and tenors against a famously lyrical melody played by the violins and the viola accompanied by the basso continuo.

Opening the concert is the Spanish composer Victoria’s a capella O Magnum Mysterium, the only truly Renaissance piece of the programme, which Mary Celeste says unfolds serenely until the final Alleluia 'dances in triple time and, with a welter of running notes, comes grandly to a close’.

This is followed by Hodie Christus natus est by the Dutch composer Sweelinck, whose work straddled the Renaissance and Baroque eras. Also on the programme are the celebrated Jesus bleibet meine Freude (Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring) the moving and richly melodic Air from Suite No.3 in D BWV 1068 (Air on the G string); and as a finale, Handel’s majestic Zadok the Priest.

Bach Magnificat by the Chroma Chamber Choir is in the Nelson School of Music Auditorium, at 2pm on Sunday 18 November. Tickets $27 plus booking fee from NCMA or


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