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Hong Kong Chamber Choir to give concert of "Stabat Mater"

     Hong Kong Chamber Choir will give a concert of Pergolesi's and Haydn's "Stabat Mater" (sung in Latin) in April. The concert will be presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

     The original lyrics of “Stabat Mater” are taken from a 13th century Latin hymn. The opening words “Stabat Mater dolorosa” mean “There stood the mournful Mother”. The poem itself is meditative. Rather than sympathise with the Saviour himself, the listener is invited to share the sorrows and tears of the grieving mother, thus drawing on the human aspect of the crucifixion story. In the 15th century, it came into use as a Sequence in the Catholic liturgy, with a plainsong melody.

     In the 15th and 16th centuries, the text was set by various composers, followed in later centuries by more elaborate musical settings for solo voices and instrumental accompaniment, suitable for concert use. Among the most popular settings of the “Stabat Mater” is the one written by Pergolesi, shortly before his death in 1736. Like the setting made by Haydn nearly 40 years later, this work presents the text as a series of movements reflecting on the imagery of the words.

     Pergolesi's version uses soprano and alto soloists in a form influenced by the secular cantata and is generally economic in its use of instrumental resources – with only strings and organ. It won enormous and lasting popularity, often subsequently appearing in elaborated versions. Haydn’s setting consists of five choruses, seven arias and one duet. In the final movement the chorus render Paradise in a bright G major, through a florid fugue leading to the coloratura.

     Next month's performance is under the baton of conductor Michael Ryan. Performing in the concert are Hong Kong Chamber Choir, sopranos Clara Yip and Rosaline Pi, counter-tenors Ray Chan and Enico Luk, tenor Sam Lau, bass-baritone Apollo Wong, organist Wong Kin-yu as well as musicians from Hong Kong Soloists.

     The Hong Kong Chamber Choir was established in 1999.  Many members are fine solo singers in their own right.  Over the years, the choir has given a number of successful performances, including Handel’s “Alexander’s Feast”, Bach’s “Easter Oratorio”, “St. John Passion” and “St. Matthew Passion”, Handel’s pastoral operas “Acis and Galatea”, Fauré’s “Requiem”, Haydn’s “The Creation”, Mozart’s “Versperae Solennes K339” and Purcell’s various Anthems, etc.

     The concert will be staged on April 13 (Monday) at 8pm at the Auditorium, Sha Tin Town Hall. Tickets priced at $120, $80 and $60 are now available at all URBTIX outlets. Half-price concessions will be granted to senior citizens, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. (Limited tickets for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients are available on a first-come, first-served basis.) Please refer to programme leaflets for details of group booking discount.

     For programme enquiries, call 2268 7321; for ticketing enquiries and reservations call 2734 9009. Internet bookings are available at For credit card telephone bookings, call 2111 5999. Visit for more information on the programme.

Ends/Friday, March 13, 2009


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