Arun Choral Society in concert at Arundel Cathedral this weekend

Arun Choral Society is offering Haydn’s Nelson Mass and Mozart’s Vesperae Solennes de Confessore in Arundel Cathedral on Saturday, October 24 at 7.30pm.

Milly Forrest
Milly Forrest

The works will be performed under the baton of musical director John Henville with Sinfonia of Arun led by Robin Morrish. Soloists from the Royal Academy of Music are Milly Forrest (soprano), Olivia Warburton (mezzo-soprano), Alexander Bevan (tenor) and Nicholas Mogg (bass-baritone).

Spokeswoman Sarah Smith said: “After almost 30 years as Kapellmeister to the court of Esterháza, Joseph Haydn was let go in 1790 becoming a very successful freelance composer. The Esterházys awarded him a pension, allowing for a comfortable retirement, and stipulated that Haydn’s one remaining task be to compose and direct a new mass once a year to honour the name-day of Princess Marie Esterházy.

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“The last six masses by Haydn were all for this purpose, the most famous being the so-called Lord Nelson Mass. Composed over a mere 53 days in the summer of 1798 and premiered that September, Haydn catalogued the mass Missa in Angustiis or Mass in Time of Trouble. At the time, Napoleon Bonaparte and his French armies occupied much of Austria, and all of Europe was in peril.

“This despair and fear can be heard in the dark, foreboding Kyrie, as well as in parts of the Credo and Sanctus. But during the time that Haydn was composing the Mass, Napoleon was surprisingly defeated in the Battle of the Nile by the British, led by Admiral Horatio Nelson. It is unlikely that Haydn could have known of this victory, although after his death a strategic chart of the British and French fleets in the battle was found among his papers. But legends develop quickly, and many began to associate the ringing trumpet calls of the Benedictus with Nelson’s victory. By the time of Nelson’s 1805 triumph at the Battle of Trafalgar, resulting in his death, the mass had been dubbed, Lord Nelson.

“Written during a time of war and strife, the Lord Nelson Mass has earned universal timeliness and appeal because its message transports us from fear and confusion to the hopeful return of peace and happiness.”

Sarah added: “Mozart’s religious music is actually the least important part of his output. His relations to the church were troubled. His very last Salzburg liturgical work, the Vesperae Solennes de Confessore (Solemn Vespers) K. 339, is, however, a masterpiece and is a foreshadowing of the two great unfinished religious works of his Vienna period, the Mass in C Minor and the Requiem.”

Tickets for the concerts are priced at £15 (£7.50 for students and under-18s) or £12 (restricted view £6 for students and under-18s). Available from ACS box office on 01243 866469.