Sunday 23 June 2013

Stabat Mater at the St. Giles on the Hill Church

On the evening of Friday 31st May 2013 I attended the Sacred Charity Concert at the St. Giles on the Hill Church, Norwich in aid of Cancer Research UK. Charlotte Ellerby, Katherine Horton and Timothy Patient performed the Stabat Mater by Alessandro Scarlatti.

In 1086 St. Giles Church is referred to in the Domesday Book. After the Norman conquest it was one of the three large parishes forming the French Borough, the richest part of Norwich. It's 120 foot tower is not only the tallest in Norwich, but rises from the highest ground.

The building as it is now was built around 1400, when the perpendicular style was first introduced in Norwich. The church is made of knapped flints, apart from the ashlar faced south porch, which was added in the 16th century, and ashlar decoration on the buttresses. The tower which dominates the city was a beacon tower, (the iron basket for the fire is still on view inside) and contains a peal of eight bells, the earliest dating from 1430. The decorative iron fence round the churchyard is famous for its wisteria in spring.

The Stabat Mater is a religious musical work written by Alessandro Scarlatti in 1724, on an order of the Franciscans, the Knights of the virgin of sorrows. The Stabet Mater is based on a liturgical text of the thirteenth century meditating on the suffering of the Virgin Mary. There is a first manuscript of the work dated 1715 and preserved in Naples. Considered outdated even by those who had ordered the piece, it was replaced by the famous Stabat Mater by Pergolesi.

This was a wonderful evening at the St. Giles on the Hill Church which overlooks the Fine City of Norwich. Scarlatti's Stabat Mater was performed brilliantly in this beautiful church. The concert finished with an organ recital from Timothy Patient. This was a great opportunity for me to visit the St. Giles on the Hill Church and to enjoy some splendid choral music.

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