Three Choirs Festival - Berlioz Les Nuits d'été

Three Choirs Festival - Berlioz Les Nuits d'été

On Thursday 1st August 2019 I sang in concert at the Three Choirs Festival with the Festival’s resident orchestra – Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Martyn Brabbins at Gloucester Cathedral.

Kathryn Rudge Martyn Brabbins  Philharmonia Orchestra Three Choirs Festival Gloucester Cathedral

The Three Choirs Festival is a week-long programme of choral and orchestral concerts, cathedral services, solo and chamber music recitals, masterclasses, talks, theatre, exhibitions and walks, rotating each Summer between the beautiful English cathedral cities of Hereford, Gloucester and Worcester. It is the oldest non-competitive classical music festival in the world, and the Festival celebrated its 300th anniversary in 2015.

In 2013 there were stained glass windows commissioned in honour of Ivor Gurney – Gloucestershire’s famous poet composer and many of the scenes include recognisable local landmarks.  In 2016 there was another window created in the same chapel (opposite the musicians chapel) to commemorate the life and works of another composer Gerald Finzi – I loved seeing them!

Our evening concert was called ‘Summer Nights’ and the programme also included Stravinsky’s Concert Suite for Orchestra No2 (The Firebird) and Walton Symphony No 1. 

Les nuits d’été (Summer Nights), Op. 7, is a song cycle by French composer Hector Berlioz. It is a setting of six poems by Théophile Gautier; ’Le comédie de la mort’  – the comedy of death.  The cycle, completed in 1840-1841, was originally for soloist and piano accompaniment. Berlioz orchestrated one of the songs in 1843, and did the same for the other five songs which were completed in 1856. The theme of the work is a journey of love – from youthful innocence to loss and finally celebrating eternal love – with the final song ‘L’île inconnue’ whisking everyone away in a boat at sea, with flowing violins and bouncing clarinets, seeking the land where love lasts eternally.

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