SEVEN DEADLY SINS
Seven brass players, seven pieces, Seven Deadly Sins. Septura possesses the varied repertoire (and its members perhaps the relevant personal experience) to portray all seven: fallen humanity’s tendency to sin expressed by envious Rameau, greedy Ravel, wrathful Bach, lustful Purcell, proud Prokofiev, slothful Lassus, and finally gluttonous Rachmaninov.
HOW ARE THE MIGHTY FALL’N
In the 100th anniversary of the First World War, Septura presents a secular Remembrance programme. Inspired by the strong battlefield associations of brass instruments, our focus is the mortal aspect of armed conflict, with music by Ramsey, Handel and Shostakovich reflecting themes of heroism, sacrifice, and grief.
CHRISTMAS WITH SEPTURA
A Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols for Brass Septet
Septura perform their very own take on the famous Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols Christmas Eve service from King’s College, Cambridge. The wide-ranging content of the Nine Lessons – from the fall of Adam and the wrath of Herod, to the mystery of the Incarnations and the peace that Christ will bring – is echoed by varied musical masterpieces: Christmas favourites spanning over five centuries from Palestrina to Rachmaninov.
BRIDGING LA MANCHE
Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité and the “island nations” of classical music
Standing together at the edge of Europe, France and England share inextricably intertwined geopolitical histories: in turns ruled together, fighting each other, competing for empire, and joined in war against a common enemy. And they are also linked by a strange relationship with the European classical tradition: both have had some composers at the very forefront of their art, the greats amongst their contemporaries; but there have also been droughts – huge swathes of music history, most noticeably the all-important classical and early romantic periods, in which neither nation has produced any composers of note.
Our geography – the narrowness of the channel – makes artistic similarities inevitable, and it’s also easy to see why these two stand outside of the mainstream: Britain is an island nation, set apart from mainland Europe; and France has a sustained history of warring with its Teutonic neighbours – from pre-Roman times up to the end of the Second World War.
This programme compares contemporary composers from the musical high- and politically notable- points of both nations’ histories: the early polyphony of Josquin des Prez and Robert Parsons; the Lully-influenced opera of Purcell and Rameau; turn-of-the-century Parry and Debussy, who both died in 1918; and their successors Ravel and Vaughan Williams.
SACRED & PROFANE
A Rite of Passage for Brass Septet
To those who revere the great composers of the past, their works are practically sacred. Transcribing these for brass is an almost criminal profanity, and Septura is the culprit.
Why brave the wrath of the music lover? Well, the brass septet is a brand new creation, so we have no choice: driven to thieving by the paucity of the established repertoire. The aim is not to produce cheap counterfeits though; rather it is to engage our audience in that cornerstone of all religion, the archetypal Rite of Passage: the transition from Profane to Sacred.
In works all related to the sacred and profane dichotomy in very different ways, we hope to persuade our listeners that, far from profaning these masterpieces, their re-imagining for brass can in fact consecrate them anew.
UNMASKING MAY DAY
Musical meanings of the first day of Summer
Traditionally the first day of Summer, May Day has been celebrated throughout history. Already a significant date in Roman and pre-Christian pagan cultures, it was adopted by the Catholic Church, observed with devotions to the Virgin Mary, and also recognised as the feast day of her husband, Joseph, patron saint of workers – perfect to be re-cast by the Communists as International Workers’ Day. The festive madrigals and dances were banned when the Puritan parliaments of the interregnum abolished May Day; but appropriately enough for a festival with such close ties to themes of fertility and re-birth, they were reinstated with Charles II’s restoration. But the term ‘May Day’ has a darker resonance in modern times: perhaps spelt “m’aidez”, it was appropriated early in the 20th century to replace SOS as the international distress signal.
In a wide-ranging programme of music for brass, Septura reflect on this single date’s incredibly diverse set of identities.