What's On - Trois Leçons de Ténèbres of Francois Couperin

Date: 31/03/2015

Location: Church of St John of Beverley, St John Lee, Hexham. 7.30pm

TROIS LEÇONS DE TÉNÈBRESAs its contribution to the Holy Week observances of Churches Together in Hexham, St John Lee church will host a performance of the three Leçons de Ténèbres of Francois Couperin on Tuesday 31st March at 7.30pm.

They will be performed by Emily Owen and Charlotte La Thrope, sopranos, Sam Stadlen, Viola da Gamba and John Green, Chamber Organ.

Tenebrae was the name applied to the combined Offices of Matins and Lauds on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday of Holy Week, the service being marked by the successive extinction of fifteen candles, the ending being ‘in tenebris’ (darkness).

The musically significant parts of the service are the settings of verses from the Lamentations of Jeremiah and the responsories which follow them.

Couperin is known to have written settings for all nine Tenebrae services, but only three survive, dating from 1714. It is thought that they were written for the nuns of the abbey of Longchamp, just outside Paris, where a special triangular candelabrum held the fifteen candles.

The pauses for the extinction of the candles are written into the music and this is how the Leçons will be presented at St John Lee.

Both Emily Owen and Charlotte La Thrope are graduates of Durham University. Emily is currently completing a Guildhall Extended Artist Masters in Historical Performance and Charlotte too will be commencing post-graduate singing studies in the next academic year.

Sam has completed a Ph.D on the music of Marin Marais at York University where he now lectures. His playing career grows apace and he is currently working with the foremost UK viol consort, Fretwork, as well as many other period instrument ensembles.

Sam and John will play appropriate music for Viola da Gamba and organ between the three Leçons. Both Charlotte and Sam have performed with Deborah Thorne and John Green at St Michael’s Warden in recent years as part of the fund-raising efforts there.

John Green is well known in this area and beyond through his work as Director of Music at Hexham Abbey and his continuo playing with many different specialist baroque performers.

This should be a very special occasion in the lovely setting of St John Lee church.

The music will be presented not as a concert, but as a meditation for Holy Week; thus there will be no charge for admission, but the congregation will be asked to make an appropriate contribution towards the expenses of the three young musicians who have travelled from London and York in order to rehearse and perform. There will be refreshments in the church hall after the service, which should last about an hour.

The rarely-heard music is of considerable beauty and intensity and it is to be hoped that as many people as possible will support this special Churches Together in Hexham initiative.

Parishes of St John Lee and Warden with Newbrough




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