The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s second year undergraduate singers will be singing in a choral concert on March 19th, 2014 in Paisley Abbey. Paisley Abbey has the only existing organ in a liturgical building of a large instrument by the distinguished and highly influential French organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.
Instruments by this master builder are in such important French cathedrals as Notre Dame de Paris and the Basilica of St Sernin in Toulouse and the amazing Abbey church of St Ouen in Rouen. The Paisley organ is unique in the UK and makes a wonderful sound.
We will be performing “Messe Solonelle” and “Les Angelus” by Louis Vierne and Gabriel Fauré’s ‘Requiem’ .
The Louis Vierne – “Messe Solonelle”, a beautiful sacred work for a four part mixed choir; including the short soprano song cycle by Vierne, a French organist and composer, called “Les Angelus”. Vierne was nearly blind due to congenital cataracts but at an early age was discovered to have an unusual gift for music.
He was deeply affected by a separation and subsequent divorce from his wife, and he lost both his brother and his son Jacques to the battlefields of World War 1. Though he held one of the most prestigious organ posts in France, the Notre-Dame organ was in a state of disrepair throughout much of his tenure at the instrument. He eventually undertook a concert tour of North America to raise money for its restoration. The tour, which included major recitals on the famous in Philadelphia and its smaller sister instrument, the Wanamaker Auditorium Organ in New York City, was very successful, although the trip physically drained him.
The “Requiem” setting by Gabriel Faure is to be dedicated to the millions of young men who lost their lives in the course of that war, as 2014 is the 100th Anniversary of the commencement of the First World War. A short requiem lasting 35 minutes, it is written for orchestra, organ, mixed chorus and two soloists, soprano and baritone, and performed in Latin. It consists of seven movements; the most famous is the aria Pie Jesu.
You can find further details on the RCS website.
Our Chamber choir is to be conducted by Frikki Walker who is also leading our rehearsals which I am really enjoying.
The choir members have been asked if their families have any links to the First World War so that we can have a better understanding of what the evening is all about. If any of you have any background or family stories connected to the time period and Great War or blog posts on your sites then I would love to hear about them.
29 thoughts on “The RCS Chamber Choir – Fauré’s Requiem”
That seems one of the more intelligent responses I’ve heard to the centenary of the start of World War One.
I lost a great-uncle on the Somme. He has no known grave but his name is inscribed on the great monument at Thiépval. My grandmother always hoped that he would turn up one day, suffering from memory loss – quite a common reaction at the time. Of course, he never did.
Thank you for sharing that story Robert, I’ve spoken to my maternal grandparents but although my grandad can remember seeing a medal he never talked about it so doesn’t know the story.
My best wishes
Very nice article Charlotte. In France, generally, the image of the first world war is the war in the trenches, the Marnes Taxis who took the soldiers fronts. And backgrounds fighting bloody, mustard gas, the Christmas nights during which the fighter did the truce and sang in English, French, German Christian the midnight ……
Too many young men lost their lives, it is hard for me to grasp the enormity of it. I can’t even begin to imagine my brothers or my Dad being taken away to never return.
Yes, this war has been called Butcher, but beyond the horror of death, we must not forget the pride of these young soldiers fighting for their families, their friends, their country and their shining souls who flew such millions of étoilespour continue to watch over their families.
Yes I think it is important for me to remember this in my performance of the requiem.
Yes, a requiem is primarily the severity of the fall, a mass collapses, then shock, crying, pain, and finally rises, lightness purity that rises, rises rises to infinity …..
My great uncle also died in the lead-up to the Somme, aged 18. He was from Neilston, which is just outside Paisley, and is one of those commemorated on the memorial window in St Thomas Chapel in Neilston. He is buried in one of the War Graves Commission cemetaries in France.
Despite my Paisley connections, I didn’t know about the organ in the Abbey – very interesting – thanks. And good luck with the concert!
Your blog is very well organised. I’ve not been to Paisley yet and its only about 20 minutes from Glasgow so that will be interesting too. Thanks for your good luck wishes.
All the best
A fitting way of commemorating the anniversary.
My mother (b 1900) knew and knew of many a person affected by the war. A number of the South African ones were killed at Delville Wood, and she wrote a march in commmemoration which was played for many years at Poppy Day parades.
It must be wonderful to write a composition that is played in commemoration year after year, how lovely, thanks for sharing that.
This post reminds me of the deeply moving sculptures by Kathe Kollwitz called “Mourning Parents.” The artist lost her son in World War I and she never fully got over it. The sculptures are meant to call attention to the loss so many parents had because of that war.
Here is the link to a picture of the sculptures.
Hi Don, thank you for the link to the sculptures they are very moving and revealing. I’ve always loved sculptures and whenever we are in London we visit the Natural History Museum to look at the statues and the British Museum to see the Parthenon Sculptures. I love modern sculptures too; there are two new 100 ft horse head sculptures in Falkirk Scotland called the Kelpies that I want to go to see soon.
Really interesting post. I know the Requiem, but didn’t know much about Louis Vierne. I’m sure everyone will love the concert.
I’ve always enjoyed the history of music part of my course. The concert seems far away at the moment but I’m sure the next seven weeks will fly by.
any chance that a recording of your performance will be posted on line? I would love to make the actual performance.. but I am not sure that i would have enough time to make it home for work the next day! jt
I’m not sure about the recording; if the Conservatoire does record it I’ll share it if I can. I hope so because my family are too far away to make it.
A rather impressive setting.
Isn’t it just David, I bet the acoustics in there are fabulous.
I love Faure’sFrench Impressionist music,but am unfamiliar with the Requim. Good luck, or am I supposed to say break a leg? Dianne
Hi Dianne, In the opera they say “toi toi toi” which is better than break a leg I think ;D
Wow, looks like French Gothic architecture. It also amazes me how Vierne could play without much sight. I remember my mom coming to my piano lesson in sixth grade class as we learned notes. Only now do I wonder if I should try teaching myself again.
Hi Eric, you know of my love-hate relationship with piano, my Mums latest tack is we didn’t spend all that money to get your piano skills so far for you just to give up on it now!!! My friend has given me a Debussy piece to learn for inspiration so I’m going to get on with it. You should tinkle around even if it is just to learn one piece of music you like for your own satisfaction 😉
I have been looking for a decently priced keyboard. Mainly because as I write certain scenes, screenplays, I make up my own background music, at times, in my mind. But I have no way of telling someone what I hear. I don’t remember how I stumbled upon your blog, but when I heard you sing, it reminded me of one of the chords I want to use in a film.
My aunt’s father was killed in 1917. She and her sister were only two and three year olds. Her mother never re-married. The Australian statistics are incredible, something like 10% of the population killed. Let alone those who were permanently wounded. And behind every one of those statistics is a human story.
Hi Gwendoline, I didn’t learn about the world wars at school but my youngest brother did as he selected the subject for examination I must get out his books when I’m home and learn more.
I suppose it is appropriate that the school curriculum moves on from these events. We can’t keep looking back forever. However, it is nice that you are researching in order to bring more meaning to your performance. I am sure you will do the memorial proud.
Beautiful post, Charlotte. I love the Faure Requiem…