Bach Magnificat
Haydn Nelson Mass
Saturday 18 November 2017 at 7:30pm
  Date:  Saturday 18 November 2017
  Time: 7:30pm
  Venue:  St Matthew’s Church, Kettering Road, Northampton, NN1 4RY
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On Saturday 17 November 2007 Lee Dunleavy stepped up to the podium for the first time as our Musical Director. Ten years on we are delighted that he is still at the helm, and in this concert we perform - almost ten years to the day - the same programme as that night.

In 1723 Bach was appointed the Director of Music and Organist of St Thomas’s Church in Leipzig, and that Christmas he Bach wanted to introduce himself to the city with a work that showed off all his brilliant potential. Realising that a lot of church music was often long and hard work for the audience, Bach decided to grab their attention with something short, sharp and stunning. Taking the Latin text of the story of the Virgin Mary as told in the Gospel of St. Luke, Bach wrote his Magnifcat, to be performed for Christmas Vespers. Bach treats each of the twelve concise movements like a distinct picture in a gallery. It is a show-off piece in which all the singers are also challenged to dazzle the listener with their technical mastery. His Orchestral Suite which completes the first half was written seven years later and includes the famous Air (on the G string).

The Nelson Mass is perhaps Joseph Haydn’s greatest single composition. It is a work that was written at a time of intense fear for the future of Austria, whose citizens were not in the best of spirits. Through 1797 and 1798 Napoleon Bonaparte had defeated the Austrian army in four major battles, even crossing the Alps and threatening Vienna itself. The prevailing political and financial instability even impacted the musical forces that Haydn had at his disposal in the Esterhazy court where he spent some 30 years of his career. Haydn’s patrons had dismissed their wind players and the composer was left with a mere string ensemble. Haydn was also feeling the effects of only recently completing and premièring The Creation. Exhausted, he was confined by his doctor to his room. But a new work was required in a short period of time to mark the saint’s name day of the Esterhazy princess. No wonder then that Haydn called his latest work the Missa in Angustiis or Mass for Troubled Times. What he didn’t know however as he penned the work was that the British had dealt Napoleon a stunning defeat in the Battle of the Nile. As the news reverberated around the world, Nelson was heralded as the “saviour of Europe”. Perhaps because of this coincidence, the Mass gradually acquired the name which it still carries today. The title however became firmly fixed when in 1800, Nelson himself visited the Esterhazy court, accompanied by his mistress, Lady Hamilton, where they met the composer, and the Mass was – in all likelihood – performed in Nelson’s honour.


Northampton Bach Choir
Bach Camerata

Soprano - Katherine Crompton
Soprano - Rachel Bedford
Mezzo Soprano - Kitty Whately
Tenor - Nathan Vale
Bass - Toby Girling
Conductor - Lee Dunleavy

- Magnificat
Bach - Orchestral Suite No. 3
Haydn - ‘Nelson’ Mass

Katherine Crompton

Katherine Crompton completed her training at the National Opera Studio, London, in July 2015. She was the recipient of the McCullough Prize for Opera and the Harriet Cohen Memorial Award. A graduate of the Royal College of Music International Opera School she studied as the Independent Opera Scholar and was supported by a Sybil Tutton Award and the Irene Hanson Scholarship. During her studies Katherine won first prize in the RCM Concerto Competition with Strauss’s Vier Letzte Lieder. Katherine is a former chorister of All Saints’ Church, Northampton.

Rachel Bedford

Rachel Bedford grew up in Rugby and began singing whilst at school, with Angela Youngman-Stewart. She went on to study music at Nene College Northampton, continuing her training with Diana Wells. She is an experienced soloist, including performances locally with the Northampton Male Voice Choir, the Northampton Philharmonic Choir, and for the St Cecilia Singers. She has performed as a soloist in Mahler Second Symphony, Vaughan Williams A Sea Symphony, and her most recent performance with the Northampton Bach Choir, Bach St Matthew Passion.

Kitty Whately
Mezzo Soprano

Kitty Whately sings on concert, opera and recital stages in the UK and internationally. Currently a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist, she is also an HSBC Laureate for the Aix-en-Provence Festival and was the winner of the Kathleen Ferrier Award in 2011. She trained at Chetham’s School of Music, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and the Royal College of Music International Opera School where she was awarded the Aldama Scholarship and numerous prizes. She won the 59th Royal Over-seas League Award for Singers in 2011. She is a Godparent of Toby Girling's daughter.

Nathan Vale

Winner of both First Prize and Audience Prize at the London Handel Singing Competition, Nathan was born in Stourbridge and received his early musical training as a chorister in Hereford Cathedral Choir under Dr Roy Massey. He went on to study with Ryland Davies at the Royal College of Music and Benjamin Britten International Opera School. He was awarded an Independent Opera Scholarship to the National Opera Studio, where he was supported by English National Opera, the Nicholas John Trust, and the Elmley Foundation.

With the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, he has sung the Christmas Oratorio conducted by Harry Christophers and Arias St John Passion conducted by Paul Goodwin and with the RAI Symphony Orchestra, Die Erste Walpurgisnacht conducted by Sir Neville Marriner and Theory/Arithmetic L’enfant et les sortileges conducted by Jeffrey Tate. Other highlights include Evangelist St Matthew Passion with the London Handel Society conducted by Laurence Cummings, Britten Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings at the Hong Kong Festival, and with the Orchestra Sinfonica Milano, Handel Messiah conducted by Sir Neville Marriner and Arias Bach St Matthew Passion conducted by Ruben Jais.

His operatic engagements have included Lurcanio Ariodante for the Bolshoi, Belfiore La finta giardiniera for Luxembourg Opera, First Armed Man/First Priest Magic Flute for ENO, Oronte Alcina and Lurcanio Ariodante for English Touring Opera, First Prisoner Fidelio for the Glyndebourne Festival, Grimoaldo Rodelinda for Iford Opera, and Mr Buchanan in the revival of The Opera Group’s award winning production of Street Scene.

Having previously studied fine art, Nathan is also a very keen painter. He is a particular fan of Lucian Freud, Paul Cézanne and Jenny Saville. When not singing, he can often be found at wandering around London’s National Portrait Gallery.

Toby Girling

Toby Girling's most current and future engagements include opera roles for De Vlaamse Opera, Scottish Opera, Chelsea Opera Group, and Oper Leipzig. Recent engagements include opera roles for English National Opera, Opéra de Lyon, Neville Holt, and English Touring Opera, as well as concert performances of works including Mozart's 'Great' Mass in C minor and Schubert's Winterreise. He is a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and continues to study with Robert Dean.