The Royal Free Singers
Autumn Concert 2015
A visit to Assisi in 1995 gave Richford Blackford an encounter with the life and works of St Francis that he described as a ‘personal epiphany’. He took the title of his setting of seven Canticles by St Francis from that of a biography by the saint’s companion, Leo of Assisi. Commissioned by the Royal Ballet School, Mirror of Perfection was first performed in March 1996 at the Royal College of Music and is now one of his critically acclaimed choral works.
Following their participation in our Zimbe concert with Alexander L’Estrange in 2012, the Royal Free Singers again welcome the Dedworth Middle School Choir’s contribution to the performance.
Francis of Assisi is credited with popularising the Christmas crib (as portrayed by Giotto), so a Christmas themed work seems an appropriate companion piece at this season. Saint-Saëns's devotional, and mostly contemplative Christmas Oratorio (or Oratorio de Noël) is an early work, written in 1858 when he was just 23, so pre-dating his more well-known works such as the Carnival of the Animals, Danse Macabre and the Organ Symphony. Intentionally paying homage to J. S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in style, Saint-Saëns’ music is nevertheless very French in its proportions, clarity of expression and elegant lines.
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