Saturday 23 March 15:00
Duration: 1 hour 20 minutes
Photo: Benjamin Ealovega
STEPHEN LAYTON, CONDUCTOR
Beautiful prayers from one of Pärt's favourite vocal ensembles
Legendary conductor Stephen Layton and the award-winning vocal ensemble Polyphony are a powerhouse in the English and international choir community, reaping praise for their seamless sound and for the purity and clarity of their musical expression.
The poem Salutation by the Indian philosopher and Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore, from which the above quote is taken, is set to music by the Estonian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds and performed by Layton and Polyphony. At the same time, Tagore's poem forms part of the common thread of the concert programme – prayer. The concert opens with the motets Laudibus in sanctis and Justorum animae by William Byrd (1540–1623), and concludes with the English contemporary composer Owain Parks' (born 1993) new interpretations of the same texts. Between Byrd and Parks' vocal works, the audience can experience Magnificat by the previously mentioned Ēriks Ešenvalds, Anton Bruckner's Ave Maria and Christus factus est, and Francis Poulenc's four sacred motets Quatre motets pour un temps de pénitence (Four Penitential Motets). Stephen Layton's finely tuned ear for contemporary music has made him a favourite conductor of several contemporary composers. For a number of years he has collaborated closely with Estonian composer Arvo Pärt and the late English composer John Tavener. Polyphony and Layton perform Pärt's Morning Star, Bogoróditse Djévo, Alleluia-Tropus and Deer's Cry as well as Tavener's Mother of God here I stand and The Lamb.
Polyphony was founded in 1986 by Stephen Layton and has since performed regularly all over the world and made a number of critically acclaimed and award winning recordings on the Hyperion label. The repertoire of the choir spans from Baroque's major Passions and major Romantic works to newly written choral music by contemporary composers. They collaborate with ensembles and orchestras such as the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, City of London Sinfonia and Philharmonia Orchestra.
Stephen Layton is one of the most sought-after conductors of his generation, especially in vocal music where he is a major influence as conductor. He is principal conductor and artistic director of Polyphony as well as The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge and Holst Singers. Layton is regularly invited to collaborate with world-leading choirs and orchestras such as the Dutch Chamber Choir, SWR Vocal Ensemble, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Eric Ericson's Chamber Choir, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and London Sinfonietta. Layton has also won or been nominated for major international awards such as the Gramophone Awards, Grammy Awards and Diapason d'Or de l'Année. Layton works closely with contemporary composers in performing their works, and his longstanding collaborations with Arvo Pärt and John Tavener have resulted in a number of fantastic concerts and recordings.
Photo: Keith Saunders