Music of Remembrance
City of Bristol Choir
David Ogden conductor
Amy Dickson saxophone
Richard Johnson piano
Rebecca Afonwy-Jones mezzo soprano
Felix Kemp baritone
Richard Blackford Pietà
Ralph Vaughan Williams Dona nobis pacem
Anatoly Avdievsky Ukrainian Lullaby
With its dramatic, visual quality, gripping narrative and vividly descriptive scoring, Pietà by Richard Blackford is a beautiful setting of the Stabat Mater text interspersed with poems from the Ukrainian born poet Anna Akhmatova.
Described as a modern masterpiece, this intensely moving work was inspired by Michelangelo’s sculpture in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome and explores a mother grieving for her son. Since its premiere in 2019 the work has received an Ivor Novello award, and City of Bristol Choir is proud to be the first choir to bring this intensely moving and remarkable work to Bristol, joined by the internationally renowned saxophonist Amy Dickson, Bristol Youth Choir and the strings of the Bristol Ensemble.
The acclaimed tenor Jonas Kaufmann writes of Pietà: “Richard Blackford has created an outstanding choral work: a passionate and personal tribute in memory of all who suffer from violence, suppression and political persecution, which has deeply impressed me. A modern composer who is not afraid of writing beautiful and touching music!”
Marking the 150th anniversary of the composer’s birth, the choir performs Vaughan Williams’ Dona nobis pacem, a cry for peace which sets texts from the Bible and Walt Whitman to warn against the inevitability of an impending conflict. The composer’s service in the First World War gave him first-hand experience of the futility and suffering of war which he weaves into this dramatic and powerful piece.
City of Bristol Choir is pleased to present these two intensely moving pieces with their themes of consolation, peace, and reconciliation on Remembrance Sunday. Completing the programme is an arrangement of a tender Ukrainian Lullaby for saxophone and orchestra, remembering the casualties not only of World Wars but also of recent conflicts.