The music was premiered in February 2010 by the Santa Barbara Choral Society and Orchestra following a commission from choral society member, Brooks Firestone, a former California assemblyman, Santa Barbara County supervisor and winery owner. Firestone was a friend of famed producer-composer George Martin (known for his work with The Beatles) in the 1960s and knew that he had written a movie score 30 years previously for “The Mission” that never made it into the film. He persuaded him to resurrect it and complete the work.
“The Mission” was set in the Amazon and concerned a band of missionaries hoping to convert the natives to Christianity. The natives were upset when they saw the white men approaching in their boats and threw spears and arrows that fell short, so they tried to frighten them away with their war chant, with which this work begins. The missionaries then responded in the only way they knew, by singing praise to the one true God: Hosanna, Kyrie eleison, Ave Maria, Benedictus and Agnus Dei, with short orchestral interludes between each short chant.
The four choirs taking part in the evening performance, Beare Green and Newdigate, Buckland and Betchworth, Mickleham and Shalford Choral Societies, will sing an excerpt from the work in the morning competition with their own conductors. Brian Kay will take the afternoon rehearsal with the choirs, the English Festival Orchestra and soprano soloist Ruth Jenkins, before the evening concert at which Sir George will present the prizes to the winners of the morning competitions.
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NOTES TO EDITORS
The Leith Hill Musical Festival is a unique choral event. It enables choirs to both engage in friendly competition and to combine to perform together in a concert with a professional orchestra and soloists.
It was founded in 1905 by Lady Evangeline Farrer and Margaret Vaughan Williams. Ralph Vaughan Williams, Margaret’s brother, was the Festival conductor from its founding until retiring in his eighties in 1954. He wrote works specifically for the Festival and most of his major choral works have been performed here. Brian Kay has been the inspirational conductor since 1996. The Festival President is John Rutter CBE.
The main Festival is held annually in Dorking over a three-day period around Easter. Each morning is devoted to a competition between choirs who sing set pieces, extracts from major works and a song of their own choice. The afternoon is spent rehearsing together and then in the evening there is a concert performance with a professional orchestra and soloists. There are currently twelve choirs taking part and these are divided into three groups, each competing and performing on one of the Festival days.
All competitions and concerts take place at Dorking Halls, Dorking, Surrey.
Tickets available from:
LHMF Box Office:
Tel: 01403 240093
Tickets also available from Dorking Halls Box Office:
Tel: 01306 240093
Or book online at www.dorkinghalls.co.uk
Competitions and concerts 11th - 13th April 2013
Competitions 9.00am – 1.00pm (spectators £3); Concerts 7.30pm