Concert: Rossini Stabat Mater & RVW Serenade to Music


Saturday 28th March 2020


St Albans Bach Choir presents 

Rossini Stabat Mater

Vaughan-Williams Serenade to Music

Mendelssohn Hebrides Overture

Date: Saturday 28 March 2020

Time: 7.30pm

Venue: St Albans Cathedral

Soprano Katy Crompton

Mezzo-Soprano – Kathryn Rudge

Tenor – Toby Spence

Bass – Edward Grint

Conductor – Andrew Lucas

Orchestra – Sinfonia Verdi


What do Rossini’s Stabat Mater and Mozart’s Requiem have partially in common? Both works, when first composed, were left incomplete by the composer, and had to be finished by a collaborator. But there the similarity ends, because, eventually, Rossini did complete the work himself, having recovered, unlike Mozart, from his illness.

It was commissioned in Spain in 1831, but the first performance of the work in 1833 was also its last in its hybrid form, with only 6 movements by Rossini and the rest by Giovanni Tadolini, (albeit passed off by Rossini as his own work). By 1841 Rossini managed to compose the rest of the work himself, and that is the music we hear today.

It is a lively work, in Rossini’s engaging style, though devotional in mood and somewhat less operatic than his secular output. Even so, it drew scathing criticism from the young Richard Wagner, and was found to be “too worldly, sensuous, too playful for the religious subject” by North German critics. By contrast, it was enthusiastically received at its premiere in Paris, and its second performance in Bologna in 1842. It is scored for four soloists and chorus and orchestra. The text is a 13th century hymn to the Virgin Mary, contemplating her Son’s death on the cross. It has been set by great composers from Palestrina onwards, right up to the present day. In 2017 the St. Albans Bach Choir performed the version by Dvo?ák.

The other work in this concert, Vaughan-Williams’ Serenade to Music, is a setting, originally for 16 soloists, of words from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. It was composed as a tribute to Sir Henry Wood on the 50th anniversary of his Promenade Concerts, and first performed under Wood’s baton in 1938. Vaughan-Williams subsequently arranged the work for four soloists plus choir and orchestra, and that is the arrangement performed in this concert. It is, as its title suggests, a powerful evocation of music’s art, in Vaughan-Williams’ very personal style, and a corner-stone of 20th century English choral music.


St Albans Bach Choir has been performing since 1924: recent programmes have included Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, Verdi’s Requiem (also in London’s Cadogan Hall), Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, and in July 2016 the choir joined forces with the St Albans Cathedral Choirs to present Bach’s Mass in B minor with The English Concert. In 2013, as part of the St Albans International Organ Festival’s fiftieth anniversary celebrations, the choir performed Britten’s War Requiem with the Britten Sinfonia under the baton of Sir Richard Armstrong. In 2017 the choir returned to the Festival in July for a performance of Handel’s Messiah with the London Handel Orchestra conducted by Laurence Cummings. In December 2013,  in 2015 and again in 2019, the choir joined John Rutter and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for their popular Christmas concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, and in the Spring of 2019 the choir was conducted by John Rutter in a performance of his Requiem in St Albans Abbey. In recent years the choir has also performed onstage at the Royal Albert Hall for the autumn and Christmas Day editions of the BBC1 Big Sing programme.



Premium £30 – Centre front with full view

Classic £26 – Centre middle with full view

Standard plus £20 – Centre back with full view

Standard £15 – Centre back with full view

No view £13 – Mainly located in the aisles or behind pillars. These seats have no view of the stage.

No view seats will only be released when seats with views have sold out.



Concessions are available for children under 16 and Students with ID except on Premium seats.


Wheelchair spaces and carer discounts can only be booked through the Box Office on 01727 890290.


Doors will open 30 minutes before concert starts. There is an interval of 20 minutes during this performance.

St Alban’s Cathedral
Copyright ©Kathryn Rudge 2019