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Reading Haydn Choir - Spring Concert

Stabat Mater - Karl Jenkins and Giovanni Pergolesi


‘Stabat Mater’ is a medieval hymn describing Mary's grief during the crucifixion of Jesus from which the term ‘stabat mater dolorosa’ originates – its meaning is ‘the sorrowful mother was standing’. Over the centuries it has inspired many composers.

Reading Haydn Choir’s Spring Concert features two of these works spanning almost 300 years.

The first is by Italian composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736). Completed in 1736, shortly before his untimely death, Pergolesi's setting, originally for soprano and alto soloist, showcases his mastery of vocal writing, blending expressive melodies and harmonies with poignant text painting. The piece is characterized by its emotional depth, dramatic contrasts, and lyrical beauty. It remains a beloved and influential work in the choral repertoire, captivating audiences with its profound spirituality and musical craftsmanship. This performance will be of a setting by Desmond Ratcliffe arranged for SATB choir.

The more recent setting is a choral work composed in 2008 by Karl Jenkins (born 1944), a Welsh musician and composer, who is one of the most performed living composers in the world. He is probably most famous for his multi-cultural choral work ‘Adiemus’ (1994) and ‘The Armed Man’ (1999). Jenkins combines elements of classical music with contemporary influences, incorporating diverse musical styles from around the world. ‘Stabat Mater’ showcases Jenkins' signature style of blending classical orchestration, choir, and ethnic instrumentation, creating a powerful and emotionally charged musical experience. The piece has been widely acclaimed for its poignant melodies, rich harmonies, and evocative portrayal of sorrow and redemption.