Newport Harbor Lutheran Church, 4 p.m.
Pacific Chorale’s John Alexander Singers
John Alexander, conductor
Elizabeth Blumenstock, concertmaster
Timothy Howard, organ & harpsichord
Henry Purcell (1659-1695)
Welcome to All the Pleasures,
Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day, 1683
2. Ritornello: Welcome to All the Pleasures
3. Ritornello: Here the Deities Approve
4. Ritornello: While Joys Celestial
5. Then Lift Up Your Voices
6. Ritornello: Beauty, Thou Scene of Love
7. In a Consort of Voices
Roy Whelden (born 1950)
Ode after Purcell: Wondrous
This work was commissioned by the Board of Directors
in honor of Dr. Burton Karson and generously underwritten by James
& Elaine Alexiou, Martin & Margie Hubbard, Jaak & Siret Jurison,
Alice Remer, Vina R. Spiehler, and John & Elizabeth Stahr
1. Hail, Bright Cecilia.
Fill our hearts with love, Cecilia.
Fill every heart with love for thee and perfect harmony, Fill
our hearts with love for thee and thy celestial art.
2. Soul of the world, inspired by thee,
The jarring seeds of matter did agree;
Thou didst the scattered atoms bind,
Which, by thy laws of true proportion joined,
Made up of various parts,
One perfect harmony.
3. Thou tun’st this world below, the spheres above, Who
in the heavenly round to their own music move;
The souls amidst,
Who in the worldly round
To their own music move.
4. Wondrous Cecilia,
All disharmonious thought,
Though used to conquest,
Must yield to thee;
Against thee all force is nought:
Thought must yield to thee.
5. The frightful harmonies of war
In vain attempt the passions to alarm,
Which thy commanding sounds
Compose and charm.
6. Hail! Bright Cecilia.
Great Patroness of us and music,
Fill our hearts with love for thee and thy celestial art.
Henry Purcell (1659-1695)
Te Deum and Jubilate Deo,
For St. Cecilia’s Day 1694
Purcell was universally mourned as the “British Orpheus”
after his premature death at the age of 36. This afternoon’s
concert juxtaposes music from the first part of his life, when he
was primarily a composer for the English court, with works from
after 1690, when — during what was to be the final five years
of his life — he focused on composing music for the theater.
concert opens with the first datable Ode for St. Cecilia’s
Day, Welcome to all the Pleasures, performed on
November 22, 1673 as part of an annual concert celebrating the patron
saint of music. It is, like all of Purcell’s early odes, relatively
small in scale, scored for an orchestra of strings and continuo
only. The musical highlight is the alto solo Here the Deities
Approve, which is one of the very best of Purcell’s many
airs written over a repeated bass pattern or “ground bass.”
incidental music for a revival of Thomas Shadwell’s play The
Libertine, which tells a version of
the Don Juan story, represents his theater music. Generally assigned
a date of 1692, it may actually have been written shortly before
the composer’s death in November 1695. The song Nymphs
and Shepherds is typical of Purcell’s pastoral music,
while the chorus In These Delightful Pleasant Groves was
one of the pieces that kept Purcell’s name alive throughout
the 19th century. BACK
remainder of the first half is taken up with music for state occasions.
The full anthem I Was Glad was written for the
Coronation of King James II in 1685 but was only identified in 1977,
having long been confused with Purcell’s larger verse anthem
with the same text. Its cheerful triple meter is typical of the
anthems written during the previous reign of King Charles II, who
was said to like only music he could beat time to. BACK
My Prayer, by contrast, is a massive essay for eight-part
chorus in the art of old-fashioned counterpoint and expressive dissonance.
It seems to be a surviving fragment of a longer work, and may have
been written for the funeral of Charles II in 1685. BACK
nlike her husband William, a dour military man, Queen Mary seems
genuinely to have loved music. When she died of smallpox on December
28, 1694, Purcell mourned her with the Latin elegy O
Dive Custos Auricae Domus set to a text by H. Parker
and arranged for two sopranos and continuo. BACK
first half of the concert closes with the large-scale verse anthem
Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem, which apparently
was composed for the coronation of William and Mary in April 1689.
he second half of the concert begins with the world premiere
of a work specially commissioned by the Baroque Music Festival,
Corona del Mar, to honor Festival cofounder Dr. Burton Karson and
his 30 years of dedicated service as the Festival’s artistic
director, conductor, organizer, champion, muse and creative force.
It was written by the American composer and viola da gamba player
Roy Whelden, who has performed and recorded with
many internationally known ensembles, including Sequentia (Cologne)
and Ensemble Alcatraz (San Francisco). As a composer, he has received
commissions for a diverse range of works, including chamber music,
songs cycles, choral works, and incidental music for plays. Whelden
holds a degree in music theory from the Eastman School of Music
and a doctorate from Indiana University, where he specialized in
Early Music Performance.
Commenting on this commission, Whelden writes: “When I was
asked to create a new piece for voices and strings based on Purcell’s
Ode on St. Cecilia’s Day, I immediately called to mind
a twentiethcentury masterwork, Igor Stravinsky’s Pulcinella.
Stravinsky’s ballet suite is a piece I had known and loved
since childhood. It was one of the few recordings available in the
public library of the farm community where I grew up.
“In Pulcinella, Stravinsky chose a number of independent
works by the astoundingly prolific Baroque composer Giovanni Pergolesi
(who died at age 26) and moulded them into a coherent work, a 35-minute
ballet. The task I set for myself in the Ode after Purcell was the
opposite: I chose movements and pieces of movements from Purcell’s
50-minute ode to create a piece of smaller dimensions.
“How did I make the selections? What were my criteria? First,
I chose texts that moved and inspired me. For the most part, the
favored texts were those that showed a universal, or at least a
less parochial, perspective. ’Thou tun’st this world
below, the spheres above, Who in the heavenly round to their own
music move.’ Now, that’s a stirring and universal emotion,
in contrast to the somewhat narrow outlook of the verse invoking
the wish that the ’British forest prove as famous as Dodona’s
vocal grove.’ (That last line is found in the verse for the
first chorus ’Hail! Bright Cecilia’; in fact, I did
use a portion of that verse, but set it with completely different
music than Purcell’s original.)
“Second, I wanted to work with those melodies from Purcell’s
Ode that suggested compelling shapes for me when looked at from
different perspectives. Often the most interesting shapes were things
that I found in dreams. ’Wondrous machine’ is an example.
It’s got a wonderfully virile ostinato, which eventually suggested
a different harmonization (or, more accurately, different counterpoint),
which in turn lead to a slight alteration of the original ostinato.
And in the course of working on the piece, I ended up changing the
text as well. ’Wondrous machine [i.e. organ — Purcell’s
instrument], To thee the warbling lute, Though used to conquest,
Must be forced to yield’ became the more universalized ’Wondrous
Cecelia, All disharmonious thought, Though used to conquest, Must
yield to thee.’
“If I have altered the music and texts of Purcell’s
wonderful Ode on St. Cecilia’s Day, I don’t wish to
imply any criticism of the original. Purcell’s mastery of
counterpoint, his surprising twists of harmony and able text settings
are above criticism. The morphogenesis of my own Ode after Purcell
is clear and apparent, even if there is no single measure from the
original which survives unaltered.
“My work is a genetic descendant — an illegitimate
daughter, if you allow — of Henry Purcell.” BACK
oday’s program concludes with Purcell’s famous setting
of the canticles Te Deum and Jubilate Deo
from the Anglican service of Morning Prayer, written for a public
celebration of St. Cecilia’s Day in 1694. Purcell’s
was the first English setting of these texts to include orchestral
accompaniment. It was immediately successful and was performed throughout
the 18th century alongside Handel’s settings. The music, with
its dramatic gestures, memorable solo airs and sturdy counterpoint,
serves as an appropriate summation of Purcell’s career. BACK
Notes by Graydon Beeks and Roy Whelden