April 3, 2001

Margaret’s Choir to perform two dates at Middlebury on national

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.—The choir of St.
Margaret’s, the historic parish church in Great Britain’s
Westminster Abbey, will spend two evenings performing at Middlebury
College during its current national tour. The group will participate
in an Anglican evensong service at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 19, in
Mead Chapel on Hepburn Road off College Street (Route 125). The
following night, Friday, April 20, the choir will present a concert
at 8 p.m. in the Center for the Arts Concert Hall on South Main
Street (Route 30).

St. Margaret’s organist, Thomas
Trotter, will open Thursday evening’s event with a short
recital. The choir then will offer an Anglican evensong—a
service of lessons, prayers and music. The service will include the
premiere of "Middlebury Venite," a special piece commissioned to mark
the College’s 200th anniversary. Created by Andrew
Gant, the newly appointed composer to the Chapel Royal at St. James
Palace, "Middlebury Venite" includes the phrase "The Strength of the
Hills is His Also"—a passage especially familiar to the College
community since it is carved above the entrance to Mead

Friday’s concert will include
both a cappella and accompanied selections by the 16-member chorus in
a program titled "Royal Peculiar" directed by Simon Over, director of
music at St. Margaret’s. Over explained: "A few of the ancient
churches of England have remained outside the domain of the diocesan
system, falling instead under the direct jurisdiction of the monarch.
As these special—or ‘peculiar’—churches include
the Chapels Royal and Westminster Abbey, they have always attracted
the finest musicians. Over almost 500 years, that provides a vast and
very rich store of material to choose from.

"The choices are many—from early
anthems by Byrd or Fayrfax to great classical composers from outside
England such as Handel, Mozart and Haydn, who have Abbey
associations, and even Wagner, whose works often premiered in England
on St. Margaret’s organ. An example of a contemporary musician
whose work has been performed at the church is John Tavener, whose
powerful composition was heard at the funeral of Diana Princess of

The choir’s members are all
accomplished professionals in their own right, and also perform with
other groups, including the Monteverdi Choir and the BBC Singers.
Trotter is a visiting professor at the Royal College of Music in
London, where he trained. He regularly tours, performing at festivals
around the world and with leading orchestras such as the Royal,
London, Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras. His award-winning
recordings include selections by Mozart and Liszt. Over’s
independent ventures vary from working with the Royal Opera to
accompanying and directing singers and instrumentalists in a variety
of venues.

As part of Westminster Abbey, St.
Margaret’s Church dates back to the late 11th century
and is familiarly known as the parish church of the House of Commons.
The choir often performs at state and royal occasions and sings for
scores of weddings, memorials and special services held in the church
each year. In recent years, the choir sang for a papal audience
during a tour of Europe and visited 11 locations on the East Coast of
the United States. Its current tour began in New York and, after
leaving Vermont, will continue in Colorado and on the West

Admission to the Thursday evening
service is free. Tickets to Friday’s concert are $10 for general
admission and $8 for senior citizens. For information or tickets,
call the College box office at 802-443-6433.

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