Choral singers are back in style with Fulham Camerata

After a long, frustrating break for Covid, the Fulham Camerata return with a dramatic and challenging choral work by American composer Leonard Bernstein, incorporating material from his iconic stage musical West Side Story.

The concert - on Sunday 13 March in Parsons Green - also features pieces by living USA composers Eric Whitacre and Morten Lauridsen, as well as Dvorak’s The American Flag.

But it is Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, a three-movement extended choral work written in 1965 as a commission for the Southern Cathedrals Festival in Chichester, that is the headline event at Holy Cross Church in Fulham’s Ashington Road.

Composed during a sabbatical away from his post as music director of the New York Philharmonic, the Psalms were first performed in the UK by the united cathedral choirs of Chichester, Winchester and Salisbury.

Walter Hussey, Dean of Chichester, had invited him to blend “certain psalms with a hint of West Side Story”, and the composer - then in his mid-40s - obliged.

Positive and full of hope, despite being written in the wake of President Kennedy’s assassination, the text mixes Hebrew language and music from the Christian choral tradition.

Each movement contains one complete psalm as well as excerpts from another paired psalm. It is in the second movement, featuring a boy soloist, that music cut from West Side Story is incorporated.

The evening also features two modern American composers with Eric Whitacre’s a cappella choral work Sleep from 2000 and Morten Lauridsen’s a cappella motet O Nata Lux.

The North American musical evening is capped by The American Flag, Dvorak's cantata marking the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s ‘discovery’ of America, based on a patriotic poem by Joseph Rodman Drake.

Under the musical direction of Harry Castle, and accompanied by organist Richard Gowers, Fulham Camerata perform at 7pm on 13 March.

Tickets will be available at the door and are £15 for adults and £10 for students. Under 16s go free. The concert will be held at Holy Cross Church in Ashington Road, SW6 3QA.

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