'Magnificat' to lead Marlborough Choral Society's Christmas concert

Written by Sara Holden on .

John Rutter’s exciting Magnificat will be the centrepiece of the Marlborough Choral Society's Christmas concert on Saturday, December 14.  The text, beginning 'My Soul Doth Magnify the Lord', tells of Mary’s delight at the news that she will soon give birth to the Christ Child.


Rutter has said that the piece was inspired by 'jubilant celebrations of Mary in Hispanic cultures' and conceived the work as a  'bright Latin-flavoured fiesta'.

The concert will be conducted by Gill Mortimer and will feature several seasonal pieces by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Benjamin Britten and Eric Whitacre.

Fantasia on Christmas Carols, by the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, combines versions of several familiar traditional carols into a mellifluous whole. It was first performed on September 12, 1912 at the Three Choirs Festival at Hereford Cathedral.

Britten’s A Hymn to the Virgin was first written when the composer was only 16 and confined to bed with a feverish illness.  Clearly, rather bored at one point, he composed this remarkably mature piece

The text that Britten uses is by an anonymous medieval poet and probably dates from about 1300. The choir is divided in two parts - one sings the Middle English text and the other responds in Latin.

Glow and Lux Aurumque are by Eric Whitacre, a contemporary American composer.  Whitacre is the founder of the global phenomenon, the Virtual Choir, in which individuals sing wherever they may be, following Whitacre online. 

There will also be, as usual, audience participation carols and glasses of wine for sale.  Tickets (price £10, students £2 and children free) are available from Sound Knowledge, from choir members or at the door.

There is more information on the Society's website.

The illustration above shows The Visitation in the Book of Hours of the Duc de Berry - with the Magnificat text in Latin.