When John Bate lifts his baton at All Saints' Church, Kingston on 9 March it will be for a very special occasion, as he steps down from his role as Artistic Director of Thames Philharmonic Choir this summer. Although this is his penultimate concert with the Choir, it is the one which he regards as his ‘special’, swansong concert, with two of his favourite works: Duruflé's Requiem and Haydn's Nelson Mass.
The two pieces convey a sense of light and shade, which will be reflected in the mixed feelings the concert will evoke in both Choir and conductor, and in their very loyal audience: the light and optimism of the glorious Haydn, and sadness at John's retirement, reflected in the deeply moving Duruflé Requiem. Duruflé fashioned the work, following the death of his father, out of a planned series of organ meditations on the plainsong melodies of the Requiem. The Nelson Mass is so called because its first performance, in 1800 at the Esterházy Palace, was given in the presence of Admiral Lord Nelson, in the course of his triumphal tour through a grateful Austria, following his recent defeat of Napoleon’s naval forces at Aboukir Bay. Both works are accompanied by a small orchestra of strings and organ, augmented by three trumpets and timpani; in the Duruflé there is also a harp.
John is throwing down his TPC conductor's baton after more than 50 years of being a leading figure in the UK's choral world. He was only 28 when in 1964 he started the two choirs that merged to form Thames Philharmonic; since then the Choir has progressed from its beginnings as twin local authority evening classes to a position where it is recognised as one of the finest around. Says John: "I am very proud of the Choir’s many and varied achievements over so many years."
John Bate and soprano wife Sally are already getting involved with the local music scene in the Winchester area, where they now spend about half of their time. John’s successor as Music Director of Thames Philharmonic Choir will be announced in due course.
Duruflé's Requiem and Haydn's Nelson Mass
Saturday 9 March 2019, 7.30pm
Thames Philharmonic Choir
Thames Festival Orchestra, Leader Nandor Szederkényi
Organ: Stephen Disley
Conductor: John Bate
Featuring Katherine Crompton, (soprano), Yvonne Howard (mezzo), Mark Dobell (tenor), and Edward Grint (baritone)
Tickets £20, £16, £5; under 18s and full-time students: £18, £14.50
10% reduction on 8 or more full-price tickets
Box Office: 07522 524081
Online reservations: www.thamesphilchoir.org.uk or at the door