Odes To St Cecilia – An Introduction

A stunning composition which honours the patron saint of music makes up part of the forthcoming classical programme at Norwich Theatre Royal.

And a beautiful version of the Ode To St Cecilia performed using period instruments is just part of a season of exciting concerts coming up in the months ahead.

St Cecilia is first mentioned in a medieval collection of stories of early Christian martyrs who met particularly nasty deaths.

Opinion varies about how it happened but, by the fifteenth century, she is adopted as the patron saint of music.

The anniversary of her apparent martyrdom (November 22) also acted as the inspiration for composers to hit new heights of creativity.

One of those was Handel whose ode to the patron saint enthralled audiences in 1739 thanks to the mix of stunning soloists and obligato instruments.

It is thought to have been one of the compositions he wrote the fastest and is noted for its overture (which Handel is thought to have been particularly proud of) and its instrumental solos.

In keeping with St Cecilia’s anniversary, the piece is being performed at Norwich Theatre Royal on November 25 as close to her martyrdom as possible as part of a programme which will also feature an ode to her by Purcell and Benjamin Britten’s hymn to her which was inspired by a WH Auden poem.

Bringing all three pieces to life will be The King’s Consort which is one of the world’s leading period instrument orchestras.

Their founder Robert King explains why she is so important

And he explains more about what the audience will hear

Founded in 1980 by Robert King who will conduct the concert, they have toured five continents appearing across Europe, Japan, Hong Kong, the Far East, and North and South America.

For more than three decades, they have presented a wide-ranging repertoire from 1550 to the present day which has taken them to a host of concert halls. This includes a number of appearances at the Proms, performances of Bach’s Mass in B Minor, the St Matthew Passion and Mendelssohn’s Elijah across Britain and Europe, and even staging operas at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris and across Britain, Europe and Japan.

Robert King himself will be conducting and it will be a great chance for a Theatre Royal audience to enjoy one of the leading and most dynamic conductors of his generation.

Born in 1960, he was a chorister with the Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge, and while there he founded The King’s Consort. As well as a busy schedule which has seen him crossing continents, he has made more than 100 recordings for CD and he is particularly known for his interpretation of baroque music.

He cannot wait to bring The King’s Consort to Norwich Theatre Royal

To book and find out more about our classical concert season, click ntr.org.uk/classicalmusic