Symphoniae Sacrae

Symphoniae Sacrae

Turkish cantillation, Haydn’s Creation oratorio and music from the royal courts of Hindustan are all reflected in the featured works by Charlie Barber. There is also a new work specially written for the occasion by Philip Flood and a recent commission from Mark Lockett based on music of West Bali.

Other composers featured include Giovanni Gabrieli whose spectacular stereophonic music was written 400 years ago for St Mark’s basilica in Venice, Arvo Pärt and Tunde Jegede a young composer in the unique position of being a recipient of a double heritage – the ancient griot tradition of Mali in West Africa and Western classical music.

Music direction: Charlie Barber

Musicians: Simon Stewart (clarinet, saxophones), James Scannell (clarinet, saxophones), Alan MacDonald (trumpet), John Randall (trombone), Ruth Wall (piano), Simon Limbrick (percussion), Tim Wright (percussion), Chris Koh (violin), Tim Davies (violin), Madeleine Zagni (viola), Sharon McKinley (cello), Tony Abell (double bass)

Stage manager: Nigel Thomas

Administration: David Sheppard


18.06.96LONDONSt Giles in the Barbican, Cripplegate
22.06.96CARDIFFLlandaff Cathedral

With the financial support of: Arts Council of Wales, Cardiff County Council, Foundation for Sport and the Arts, Hinrichsen Foundation, Holst Foundation, Musicians’ Union, Performing Right Society


“The Venetian Giovanni Gabrieli has always been a touchstone for the Barber Band and, in this thoughtful and thought provoking contribution to the country-wide celebration of National Music Day, Symphoniae Sacrae was a concert of spiritual sounds and spatial effects.

The ritual that are music, religion and art are enacted in different ways across the globe, and one of Barber’s great services in the programmes he builds is to put pieces in a context which creates an awareness of the cross-fertilising influence of seemingly disparate cultures.

Philip Floods’s Still Changes, took Gabrieli’s Canzon VIII a 8 as a starting point for a work which gently wove patterns of sound in the air. This being Llandaff and not St Mark’s, the experiments in multiple groupings were confined to ground level, but this was still tetraphonic sound with those members of the audience privileged to be inside the triangle of three groups feeling a physical involvement as ideas were exchanged and developed.

There were particularly beautiful moments of Debussy-like chords from the piano (in turn providing another cross-reference to the gamelan theme of Mark Mockett’s witty Seventh Heaven and Colin McPhee’s Balinese Ceremonial Music) and later again in the bell-like piano and tuned percussion where the fabric of the piece seemed just to disintegrate graduall yet magically.

Barber’s own scores gave the backbone of the concert, but while the older ones stood up nobly the first performance of his Kantos Türkiye fared less well. Despite the brilliantly theatrical opening device of a solo saxophone intoning a Moslem call to prayer, the canonic device on which it was based made it go on too long. By contrast Tunde Jegede’s Lamentation was a model of elequence and brevity.” Rian Evans, The Western Mail, 24 June 1996




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