Faith News: Aeolian Singers to raise the roof at St Albans Abbey

Hemel Hempstead's Aeolian Singers at St John's Church in Boxmoor
Hemel Hempstead's Aeolian Singers at St John's Church in Boxmoor

A Hemel Hempstead choir which is celebrating its 50th year will join forces with other singers for a concert at St Albans Abbey later this month.

The town’s Aeolian Singers and nearby Harpenden’s Hardynge Choir will perform Beethoven’s Mass in C at 7.30pm on Saturday, October 18 at the Cathedral – near to both towns.

The event follows the very well received joint concert with the two groups in the same venue back in 2011, and the choirs are pooling their talents again to put on another joint concert featuring works by Schubert, Mozart and Beethoven.

For this concert, musical direction is passed from the Aeolians’ musical director Stephen Jones to Rufus Frowde, who performs the same role for the Hardynge Choir.

Beethoven Mass in C was written as a special commission for Prince Nikolaus Esterhazy 11 in 1807.

Not often, performed unlike his Missa Solemnis, which he wrote fifteen years later, the Mass in C has directness and emotional content that many consider to be lacking in his late works.

The Mass in C, which in five movements, is reputed to be Beethoven’s favourite choral work.

The groups will also perform Schubert’s Magnificat D486 – a musical setting of the Magnificat hymnwritten by Franz Schubert and dated September 25, 1816.

The work is dived into three movements and is typical of Schubert’s sacred music.

As well as the two magnificent choral works, Jane Booth will also perform Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto with the Hertfordshire Classical Orchestra on the night.

The piece was was written in 1791 for Anton Stadler. Stadler born in in June 1753 was an Austrian clarinet and basset horn player reputed to be able to produce a beautiful tone in the lower register of the basset horn.

Tickets are priced at £25, £20 and £15 reserved, or £8 with a restrictive view.

They are available to buy from the Cathedral itself, or over the phone to the St Albans Cathedral box office, located in the gift shop, on 01727 890290.

The box office is open from 10am to 4.45pm Mondays to Saturdays, and 1pm 4.45pm on Sundays.

You can also visit the cathedral website at for more details.

The Aeolian Singers were formed when the then-organist and choirmaster at Hemel Hempstead’s St Mary’s Church placed an advert in the Gazette for vocalists to join in a performance of the great 18th century oratio Handel’s Messiah.

Now, in its golden jubilee year of music-making, the group is still going strong.

The Singers were regulars onstage at Hemel Hempstead’s Pavilion, with a sell-out concert in 1972 followed by its last performance there 30 years later – which was also a Messiah rendition.

Since 1994 the Singers have been led by Stephen Jones, who has the creation of the award-winning City Chamber Choir under his belt.

Christian Viewpoint

All of us at some time question our self worth. For some, self assessment puts it high, for others, low – either end of the scale is self-damaging. We all have things in our lives we would sooner forget. The Bible speaks of self worth – how much we are worth to God. Imagine asking God how much you are worth; imagine him answering you in His Son, Jesus. He would spread his arms wide, wide enough to be nailed to a cross. “This much,” would be his answer. YOU are worth enough for Jesus to die for. Accept him today.

Robin McEwen, Methodist Church