Mendelssohn's 'greatest work'

TONY COOPER Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, who lived from 1809 to 1847, is revered by many as one of the greatest composers of the 19th century and his oratorio, Elijah – to many his greatest work – is being performed at St John's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Norwich this Saturday.

TONY COOPER

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, who lived from 1809 to 1847, is revered by many as one of the greatest composers of the 19th century and his oratorio, Elijah – to many his greatest work – is being performed at St John's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Norwich this Saturday, September 25 (7.30pm).

The performance, in the presence of the Right-Reverend Michael Evans, Bishop of East Anglia and the Right-Reverend Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, will be given by the St John the Baptist Festival Chorus and Orchestra conducted by Christopher Bell.

He is a former chorister of St Paul's Cathedral, London and a lay clerk at York Minster and is presently master of music at the cathedral, a landmark building of Norwich at the junction of Unthank Road and Earlham Road.

The building has superb acoustic properties, especially for choral music, which Mendelssohn, who loved the oratorios of Handel and a major force in restoring Bach's music to the world, would most surely have approved of!

Elijah is one of the most vengeful and fiercest of the prophets and it is said that Mendelssohn may have related it to the Old Testament leader in his hope for a modern political leader.

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For Hannah Perowne, the leader of the orchestra, it's a homecoming as she actually grew up in the cathedral parish.

Since January 2000 she has been a member of Camerata Salzburg, with whom she has given concerts in many countries, leading the orchestra during a tour of South America in 2002.

She also happens to be a first violinist in Mendelssohn's old orchestra, the Gewandhaus, in which he developed into one of Europe's finest, a reputation they still enjoy to this day. A nice historic touch!

The distinguished tenor, Ian Partridge, leads a quartet of soloists with Helena Dix (soprano), Ivana Dimitrijevic (mezzo-soprano) and Rodney Clarke (bass baritone).

The concert is to raise funds for a major building project at St John's – the Narthex – which will provide an interpretation and exhibition centre, a meeting and refreshment area as well as better facilities for the disabled.

Tickets £10, concs £8, available at the door or from Prelude Records, St Giles', Norwich, telephone 01603 628319

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