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.

Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897) – Geistliches Lied, Op. 30
Sergei Prokofiev (1891 – 1953) – Suite, Op. 12
Orlande de Lassus (1530 – 1594) – Lagrime di San Pietro

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George Frideric Handel (1685 – 1759) – Suite from ‘Rinaldo’, HWV 7
Anton Bruckner (1824 – 1896) – Ave Maria & Os Justi
Sergei Rachmaninov (1873 – 1943) – Four Pieces, Op. 11

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.

Tomás Luis de Victoria (c.1548 – 1611) – Congratulamini mihi
Henry Purcell (1659 – 1695) – The Curious Impertinent (Z. 603)
Anton Bruckner (1824 – 1896) – Ave Maria (WAB 6)
Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683 – 1764) – Suite from ‘Dardanus’

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Dmitri Shostakovich (1906 – 1975) – Quartet No. 8 (Op. 110)

HOW ARE THE MIGHTY FALL’N

A secular Easter meditation for Brass Septet

Reflecting the themes of the Easter narrative – betrayal, sacrifice, death and re-birth – Septura presents a secular Easter programme. Our focus is not the supernatural, but rather the mortal; and so as well as pieces specifically relating to the Easter story, we consider the 100th anniversary of the First World War, and the strong battlefield associations of brass, with music inspired by the human sacrifice of armed conflict.

The Last Post
Robert Ramsey (1590 – 1644) – How are the mighty fall’n
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906 – 1975) – String Quartet No. 8, Op. 110
Hubert Parry (1848 1918) – There is an Old Belief from Songs of Farewell

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George Frideric Handel (1685 – 1759) – Suite from ‘Rinaldo’, HWV 7
Orlande de Lassus (1530 – 1594) – Lagrime di San Pietro
Sergei Rachmaninov (1873 – 1943) – Slava!, Op. 11

CHRISTMAS WITH SEPTURA

A Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols for Brass Septet

Septura presents its very own take on the famous Christmas Eve service from King’s College, Cambridge, with both sacred and secular music reflecting the Biblical texts. The wide-ranging content of the Nine Lessons – from the fall of Adam and the wrath of Herod, to the mystery of the incarnation and the peace that Christ will bring – is echoed by varied musical highlights from the brass septet repertoire, both literal and figurative responses spanning over five centuries from Palestrina to Shostakovich.

Felix Mendelssohn (1809 – 1847) – Sonata in C minor: Fugue (from Op. 65, No. 2)
– First Lesson –
George Frideric Handel (1685 – 1759) – Il Vostro Maggio from ‘Rinaldo’, HWV 7
Dmitry Shostakovich (1906 – 1975) – Quartet No. 8 (Op. 110), 2nd movement
– Second Lesson –
Anton Bruckner
(1824 – 1896) – Os justi (WAB 30)
– Third Lesson –
Sergei Rachmaninov (1873 – 1943) – Slava! (Op. 11, No. 6)
– Fourth Lesson –
Claude Debussy (1862 – 1918) – Bruyeres (L. 123, No. 5)

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– Fifth Lesson –
Tomás Luis de Victoria (c. 1548 – 1611) – Congratulamini mihi
– Sixth Lesson –
Edvard Grieg (1843 – 1907) – Homeward (Op. 62, No. 6)
Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897) – Mein jesu der du mich (Op. 122, No. 1)
– Seventh Lesson –
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
(c. 1525 – 1594) – Missa Papae Marcelli: Gloria
– Eighth Lesson –
George Frideric Handel (1685 – 1759) – Sibillar gli angui d’Aletto from ‘Rinaldo’, HWV 7
Maurice Ravel (1875 – 1937) – Pavane pour une infante défunte
– Ninth Lesson –
Robert Schumann (1810 – 1856) – Talismane (Op. 141. No. 4)

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 post-war giants Britten and Messiaen, who led the compositional schools of their respective countries forward through the 20th Century.

Josquin des PrezAve Maria (a6)
Robert ParsonsAve Maria

Jean-Philippe Rameau – Suite from ‘Dardanus’
Henry Purcell – The Married Beau

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Claude Debussy Berceuse Heroique
Hubert Parry – Songs of Farewell

Benjamin BrittenFanfare for St. Edmundsbury
Olivier Messiaen1.1 and 3.2 from Les corps glorieux