“The only worthwhile striving is after the highest ideals: If you aim for an easy target, your standard will inevitably decline, and no progress is ever made, except through real effort and real suffering.” - Servant of God Fra' Andrew Bertie                                                                                                                                                 "Work as if everything depends on you, pray as if everything depends on God" - Saint Ignatius of Loyola

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SAINT JOHN’S CONCERT SERIES 2010/2011

        !!!                               Next Concert - 23rd MARCH - Hexachord                            !!!       

We are pleased to present the first annual series of Saint John’s Concerts, to be held in this beautiful classical church.

The programmes will include a fascinating glimpse of  choral music across the ages, concentrating particularly on English Tudor music, including works from the Eton Choirbook and Taverner, as well as more widely known pieces by Palestrina and other renaissance music, and on music written for the Order of Saint John though various periods.

We are grateful to the choirs Musica Contexta and Hexachord, whose long association with Saint John’s Wood parish is well known, singing polyphony of the most sublime quality, as well as our neighbours, Arnold House School, whose recently formed polyphonic choir will be making its debut in our church, in a concert of renaissance and classical music which will also allow the new organ to be heard to full advantage.

Schola Baptista will perform some extremely rare works written in Malta and elsewhere for the churches of the Knights of Saint John. Several of these pieces were performed in front of Fra' Matthew Festing, the Grand Master of the Order in Merton College Oxford last year.

The concerts are being organised in collaboration between the Hospital of Saint John and Saint Elizabeth and the Order of Malta, whose long association with the work of the Hospital dates back to its foundation by Sir George Bowyer, a 19th century knight of Malta who built the Hospital and Church greatly at his own expense, and who was instrumental in restoring the charitable activity of the Order in England. His heart is buried in front of the altar in the Church.


The concerts are in aid of SAINT JOHN'S HOSPICE, the only only independent hospice in central London. It delivers a unique model of care to one of the most vibrant and diverse communities in the world. Working in partnership with seven local Primary Care Trusts, its services cover a large geographical area from Hammersmith in the west, to the City in the east, from the Thames in the south to the M25 to the north.  Visit the website for more details.

Entry to the Concerts is by Programme available on the night, for which a donation of £15 is requested on the door. Wine and soft drinks are available in the interval.
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PROGRAMME

Wednesday 29 September 2010 at 19:30
Concert: Hexachord
O Michael - Across the ages, the extraordinary attributes and powers of St. Michael, Archangel have provided great inspiration to composers.  Monumental Renaissance masterpieces, such as John Taverner's six-part, festal mass "O Michael" and Heinrich Isaac's "Angeli, archangeli", can be heard alongside works by Palestrina, Willaert, and others.

Wednesday 27 October 2010 at 19:30
Concert: Musica Contexta
Inviolata - Marian music from the Sistine Archive.  From the musical melting-pot of Renaissance Rome, music in honour of the Virgin Mary by northern Europeans – Josquin and Arcadelt; Spaniards – De Silva and Morales; – and Italians – Festa and Palestrina. The programme will include music from Musica Contexta’s forthcoming ‘Roma Sancta’ CD for Chandos.

Wednesday 24 November 2010 at 19:30
Concert: Arnold House School Chapel Choir
A programme of polyphony and organ, including Richard Dering, George Dyson, Vaughan Williams and Faure. Interspersed in the programme will be two organ solos of works by J. S Bach, played by Paul Swinden, Choirmaster, and Colin Stuart.

Wednesday 15th December 2010 at 18:30
Christmas Carols: Cantores Missae - The popular annual Order of Malta Carol Service, with the plainsong Greater 'O' Antiphons, polyphonic motets, congregational carols and traditional readings in the candle-lit church.

Wednesday 26 January 2011 at 19:30
Concert: Musica Contexta
Glories of the Eton Choirbook - The Eton Choirbook is the most spectacular source of English Renaissance polyphony. Hidden away in the library of Eton College, the manuscript survived the Reformation, and so ensured that composers such as Kellyck, Fayrfax, Cornysh and Browne – otherwise barely known – have masterpieces to be remembered by. The programme will include probably the greatest work of the early Tudor period – John Browne’s ‘Stabat Mater’.

Saturday 26 February 2011 at 19:30
Concert: Schola Baptista
Music for Saint John - A programme of music composed for the liturgies of the Order of Saint John, from early chant from Rhodes to the heights of polyphony from Valetta.

Wednesday 23rd March 2011 at 19.30
Concert: Hexachord
Plorans, plorabit - Sometimes, especially during Lent and Holy Week, it might seem as if Thomas Tallis, arguably England's most illustrious Renaissance composer, was the only composer to set parts of the Lamentations of Jeremiah.  In fact, this text has inspired composers across the ages, from Festa in the early Renaissance, through Zelenka and Charpentier in the Baroque, to Stravinsky, Krenek and  ernstein in the 20th century. Through music by Carpentras, White, Morales, and others from the Renaissance period, this concert focuses on some of the lesser-known settings, and juxtaposes these with penitential choral works from the same period.

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Choir Biographies:
HEXACHORD - An early music ensemble, Hexachord was formed during the twilight of the 20th century with a primary aim of exploring a vast, virtually untapped repertoire of sacred Renaissance choral music.  Much of this music resides, largely and solely in manuscripts, choirbooks and part-books from the period, and has been specially transcribed and edited by the ensemble's director, Simon Lillystone, for liturgical, as well as concert use.
The ensemble has since given many concerts both inside and outside London, and has brought to light an array of stunning works by unjustly neglected composers, particularly those of Verdelot, Phinot, Porta, and de Monte.
MUSICA CONTEXTA  translates literally as 'music interwoven', reflecting the group's primary aim of  resenting Renaissance music in the context of its original conception and function. The group first performed in Ely Cathedral in August 1992, making its London debut at St. John’s Smith Square the following year. Since then Musica Contexta has performed throughout Britain and Europe. Sell-out Festival appearances in Britain have included the York Early Music Festival, the Three Choirs Festival in Worcester Cathedral, and the Stour Music Festival in Kent.  http://www.musicacontexta.com/ 
Musica Contexta’s Wigmore Hall debut was one of a number of BBC broadcasts the group has made. In 1995 the choir made its first CD recording, of music by John Sheppard. This was followed by a highly acclaimed series of recordings for Chandos, featuring Palestrina’s Music for Holy Week: the final recording in this series was shortlisted for the prestigious Gramophone Early Music Award.
SCHOLA BAPTISTA is an ad-hoc group of professional and amateur voices under the direction of Eoghain Murphy, a Knight of Malta, specialising in English and continental polyphony of the Golden Age, and with an additional interest in performing the largely-unpublished music written for, or associated with, the Order of Saint John whilst in Rhodes and Malta.  
They have performed before the Grand Master of the Order on several occasions, most recently in Merton College Oxford earlier this year.
CANTORES MISSAE is a vocal ensemble drawn from leading choral and consort singers in London. A variable group numbering from 4 to 12 singers (or more  f required), the members are drawn from such institutions as Westminster Cathedral and St. Paul's Cathedral. The group is now becoming established in Catholic circles for its performances of the finest works of the golden age of polyphony, in particular Victoria's Tenebrae Responsories, in such places as Portsmouth Cathedral, Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane, London, the Chapel of the Knights of Malta, London and St.Thomas Aquinas in Ham, but their repertoire extends through to the 20th Century. The highest calibre of excellence is the hallmark of Cantores Missae, which always lends an extra dimension to any occasion, whether a wedding, funeral or a special service.
ARNOLD HOUSE SCHOOL CHAPEL CHOIR Arnold House a reknowned boys' preparatory school in St John's Wood, has recently developed a high standard of music under their enthusiastic young Director of Music, Paul Swinden. The Chapel Choir sings a mainly liturgical repertoire and leads the school's worship through music during the academic year. The school is happy to renew its association with the Hospital, and is glad to be able to encourage its young musicians. http://www.arnoldhouse.co.uk/

This post will be updated from time to time. The Series Programme leaflet is now published, copies will be available in the Church and Hospital Reception. A printable online version may be downloaded here, or in the 'download' menu in the sidebar.