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University choir celebrates music of the Reformation

Tuesday 26 September 2017

2017-09-26T10:00 choir-cd-mainbody
The haunting sound of the Reformation has been captured in an exciting new musical collaboration between St Salvator’s Chapel Choir of the University of St Andrews and Scotland’s pre-professional early music ensemble, the Kellie Consort.

Released on Sanctiandree Records, the new CD of music from the period has been created to mark the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation.

Luthersche Leidensmusik follows a chronological trajectory from the early 16th to the late 17th centuries whilst also tracing the progression from Lent to Passiontide and culminating in Nikolaus Bruhns’ Easter cantata Hemmt eure tränanflut. The programme, directed by University Organist and Director of Chapel Choirs, Tom Wilkinson, also includes two cantatas from Dietrich Buxtehude’s cycle Membra Jesu Nostri and music by Praetorius, Schütz and Resinarius.

The Kellie Consort is led by Richard Gwilt, Professor of Baroque Violin at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne and a member of London Baroque. Sean Heath, Keyboardist in Residence at the University of St Andrews, contributes an improvisation and music by Scheidemann and Kotter on the new Marc Garnier organ at the University of Birmingham’s Elgar Hall.

Mr Wilkinson said: “The sheer beauty of Lutheran church music made Luthersche Leidensmusik a hugely rewarding project. This CD neatly traces both the development of Lutheran concerted music in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and follows the liturgical sequence from Lent to Easter.

“During the recording period, it was fascinating to be immersed in the tradition that gave rise to masterpieces such as Bach's St Matthew Passion. For example, the music of Nikolaus Bruhns who, like Bach, was a pupil of Buxtehude, and seems to have been destined for great things, but died at the tragically young age of thirty-one. All of us involved with the project – the choir, the Kellie Consort and the inspiring violinist Richard Gwilt – loved getting to know this wonderful, yet neglected, repertoire.”

2017-09-26T10:00 choir-cd-mainbody-coverChoral singing has been a key feature of student life at the University of St Andrews since its foundation in 1413, with early sources referring to the ‘Choristi Sanctiandree’, when all students were obliged to sing in the chapel. Today’s chapel choir’s members are all supported by choral scholarships, allowing them free access to weekly singing lessons and touring activities. The choir members are important ambassadors for the University, touring internationally on an annual basis in addition to their extensive ceremonial and liturgical duties in St Andrews.

They also enjoy a busy schedule of concerts and broadcasts on radio and TV, as well as appearances at international festivals including, most recently, the Thueringer Bachwochen (Germany) and the Haarlem Koorbiennale (The Netherlands). Other recent tours have featured performances at Washington National Cathedral and Princeton University (USA) and with renowned baritone Peter Harvey in Sweden. It is the only university choir in Scotland to sing three services each week during semester.


Background information

The CD will be launched at a special free concert on Tuesday 10 October in St Salvator’s Chapel at the University of St Andrews at 8pm. St Andrews is Scotland’s designated city in a Europe-wide initiative ‘Reformation Cities’. The concert forms part of a series of events devised in collaboration with the town’s churches.

The CD and tickets for the concert will be available online after 6 October.

Tom Wilkinson is available for interview, please contact communications office.  

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office. Contact Fiona MacLeod on 01334 462108/07714 140 559 or fm43@st-andrews.ac.uk.