The program’s first half features Henry Purcell’s Hail! Bright Cecilia. Also known as Ode to St. Cecilia, Hail! Bright Cecilia is a work that not only influenced Handel, but also marks the beginning of the secular choral tradition in England. Composed in 1692 in honor of the feast day of St. Cecilia, patron saint of musicians, it sets a poem by the Reverend Nicholas Brady in praise of Cecilia, music, and the instruments of music. The last of the work’s thirteen movements triumphantly asserts that music is essential to heaven and eternal happiness.
The second half of the program presents two of Handel’s four Coronation Anthems and excerpts from Handel’s Water Music. The first anthem, Zadok the Priest, derives its text from the biblical account of the anointing of Solomon by Zadok and Nathan, 1 Kings (1:38-40). This text has been used in every English coronation since that of King Edgar at Bath Abbey in 973, and Handel’s setting has been used at every coronation since its composition in 1727.Composed in the same year, The King Shall Rejoice takes its text from Psalm 21 (verses 1-3, 5).The final exuberant movement is played at the precise moment the king is crowned, ending in a closing “Alleluia!“
The Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys with Juilliard415
Richard Egarr and John Scott conductors