Thursday, 10 November 2011

Some Timely Information about the Howells Requiem at Pinhoe Parish Church Friday 11 November 9pm - Many Thanks to Kim Nettleton Croley

A  Concert  for  Remembrance
HOWELLS'   Requiem

THE STARLING OCTET presents a beautiful, acapella recital
by candlelight, interspersed with readings and war poetry

Free entrance, with retiring collection for war charities

9pm Friday 11 November
St Michael & All Angels
Church Hill, Pinhoe, EX4 9JF

The Starling Octet
The Starling Octet's members have 'flocked' together from across England and even Australia and are all now based in Exeter, regularly rehearsing at the University's music department. Drawn together by a love of making choral music, members of the Starling octet are music students and teachers who compose, rehearse and conduct in university, concert and cathedral settings both in England and abroad. Together their aim is to breathe life into and share the most beautiful and lesser known choral works from a wide ranging repertoire - from the earliest of English & European church music through to vocal jazz and African works.

Concert - Friday 11th November, 9pm
You can hear them this Friday, singing Howell's Requiem by candlelight at 9pm in Pinhoe Parish church - the church of St Michael & All Angels - which is on Church Lane,  signposted a few hundred yards up Church Hill. Pinhoe is just outside Exeter.

The concert is free, with a retiring collection for war charities. 
The movements of the Requiem will be interspersed with readings and war poetry. 

The Requiem 
The death of his son Michael, at the age of 9, in 1935, unleashed a new period of creativity; both Howells himself and his music were never the same after this period of his life. Though not an orthodox Christian, he became increasingly identified with the composition of religious music. The unaccompanied Requiem was begun before Michael's death but not published until 1981, with a dedication to his memory. 

Musical style
The Requiem is an unaccompanied piece for 8 voices. Written in the 1930's, the piece combines the flavour of anglican choral church music with the then-emerging jazz harmonies and musical language.
Howells was clearly influenced by Vaughan Williams and Edward Elgar - his work is quintessentially English in melody (with folk roots) and emotional language (stirring and deep)

For the music theorists..
Howells was interested in early music and 'modes' and developed a contemporary, idiosyncratic scale distinguishable by the 'augmented 4th' and 'flattened 7th'. 
This jazzy, quirky style is aesthetically pleasing and recognisable..

For the listener..
"The Requiem is an exploration on the personal experience of grief"
" experience of rhapsodic beauty"
The result is a stirring, personal and emotional reflection on the tension between extreme sadness and the promise of hope in what may follow.. a relief from suffering, an act of noble sacrifice or simply eternal peace. It is the perfect piece for Armistice Day.

Howells : history and peopleHowells was born in 1892 in Lydney, Gloucestershire, and was the youngest of six children born to Oliver and Elizabeth Howells. His father was an amateur organist, and Herbert himself showed early musical promise. He studied first with Herbert Brewer at Gloucester Cathedral, as an articled pupil alongside Ivor Novello and Ivor Gurney, the celebrated English songwriter and poet, with whom he became great friends. A September 1910 concert in Gloucester Cathedral included the premiere of a mysterious new work by the yet little-known Ralph Vaughan Williams. Howells not only made the composer's personal acquaintance that evening, but (as he often recounted) the piece, the Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis, profoundly moved him. Later he studied at the Royal College of Music (RCM) under C.V. StanfordHubert Parry and Charles Wood.
In 1915 he was diagnosed with  Graves' disease and given six months to live. Since doctors believed that it was worth taking a chance on a previously untested treatment, he became the first person in the country to receive radium treatment. The treatment was successful.

Kim Nettleton-Croley
Broadclyst Devon

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