The Woods Hole Cantata Consort, under the direction of John J. Dulina, IV, presents “The Majesty of Music” on Saturday, August 20, at 7:30 PM, and Sunday, August 21, at 4 PM, at the Church of the Messiah, 22 Church Street, in Woods Hole. The consort is celebrating its 43rd season with choral music for royal events.
“Queen Elizabeth II turned 90 years old in April of this year, and, as of September of 2015, is the longest-reigning monarch in Britain’s history,” said Dulina. “In recognition of these events, we will be featuring music written exclusively for, or performed at, coronations and other royal events.”
Music by Ralph Vaughn Williams, Henry Purcell, George Frideric Handel, and others will be featured. Of special note is William Mathias’ anthem, “Let the people praise thee, O God,” written for the July 1981 royal wedding of the Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles, which had a television audience of an estimated 1 billion people worldwide.
“This is a joyful, soaring work, and very exciting to sing” said Dulina. Mathias was a child prodigy who began composing at the age of 5; he was known for his Anglican choral music. “Let the People Praise Thee” was his best-known work.
John Dulina explains a point to the chorus, while organist Nancy Wendlandt looks on.
The program begins with traditional coronation music, “Zadok the Priest,” one of four Coronation Anthems composed by Handel for the coronation of King George II and Queen Caroline in 1727. “Zadok the Priest” has been sung at every coronation since then. The words themselves (“Zadok the Priest and Nathan the Prophet anointed Solomon King/And all the people rejoiced, and said:/God save the King! Long Live the King!/ May the King live forever, Amen Allelujah”) are taken from the King James Bible text and have been used in coronations since the year 973. This powerful and triumphant music, Handel’s first commission as a naturalized British citizen, is also used for royal weddings.
“Confortare (Be of Strong and Good Courage)” by George Dyson (1883-1964) was commissioned for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, which took place in 1953. Also commissioned for the coronation were two works by Ralph Vaughn Williams: his harmonization and arrangement of “Old Hundredth” (“All People That on Earth Do Dwell”), a hymn that dates back to the 1500s, and “O Taste and See,” aflowing and expressive piece, one of Vaughn Williams’ most popular motets.
“Coronation music is powerful, uplifting, and inspiring,” said Dr. John Stegeman, chair of the board of trustees. “I think the audience will be moved, too, by these selections.”
The Woods Hole Cantata Consort will sing several other works that were sung at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, including “I will not leave you comfortless,” a Renaissance anthem by William Byrd.
“Christ is Made the Sure Foundation” was played at the wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1981. The text originated in the 7th century and was translated from the Latin by noted hymn writer John Mason Neale (1818-1866). The original plainsong melody was replaced with a tune (“Westminster Abbey”) composed by Henry Purcell (1659-1695).
A portion of Handel’s Water Music will be performed by WHCC’s instrumental ensemble. These suites were composed in response to a request from King George I to Handel for a concert on the Thames River in 1717 during which both the King, with his entourage, and the orchestra floated up the river on barges.
The concert will also include some majestic choral music that is not specifically related to the royal family, including selections from Vivaldi’s Gloria and the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah.
The concert appropriately concludes with “God Save the Queen” (also known as, “God Save the King”), the national anthem of the United Kingdom. It is thought to have been written in 1619 by John Bull. It is performed at many formal occasions in Britain.
Woods Hole Cantata Consort includes an SATB chorus of experienced singers, both summer visitors and year-round residents of Woods Hole, Falmouth, and beyond, as well as an instrumental ensemble. This year, the instrumental ensemble is made up of 12 musicians from the Cape Symphony and other New England orchestras. Lino Tanaka is concertmaster. Originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tanaka has won numerous competitions and has performed with numerous orchestras in Brazil and the US. He is currently a member of the Cape Symphony and the Vermont Symphony Orchestra.
Director Dulina, now in his second year as director of the consort, has performed and conducted across the United States, Canada, and Italy and is an expert in the history of music. He is Music Director at First Congregational Church of Falmouth and Artistic Director/Conductor of the Greater Falmouth Community Chorus (formerly the Greater Falmouth Mostly All-Male Men’s Chorus). Pianist Nancy Wendlandt is the group’s accompanist.
Admission is free. Free-will donations are gratefully accepted at the door. A reception at Fisher House will follow Sunday’s performance. For more information, visit woodsholecantata.org or contact Sherry Martin at SherryJMartin@hotmail.com or 508-527-8272.