Carmina Burana at St Mary in the Castle

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The Carmina Burana 'Wheel of Fortune'

Hastings Philharmonic Choir returns to St Mary in the Castle with Carl Orff’s masterpiece Carmina Burana this Saturday, April 6 at 7pm. These lascivious songs were written in Medieval Latin and Middle High German in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries by the same kind of wayward clerics who frequented the original St Mary in the Castle at the same time. The music is dramatic and modern.

The first St Mary in the Castle was a ‘royal peculiar’ built inside Hastings Castle, free from episcopal supervision, but the dissolute behaviour among the clerics elicited the displeasure of the bishops. It was a collegiate church endowed with funds for ten canons with not a lot to do. The deans, supposedly in charge, were frequently absent in this era of lax discipline where the second and third born of wealthy families were often sent in to the church.

In the 12th and 13th centuries there were reports of dissolute behaviour, children out of wedlock, absences without leave and financial irregularities. It was thought that Thomas Becket was Dean of St Mary in the Castle sometime before 1154 when Henry II, not yet king, had Becket as a carousing partner. However, there is no evidence that he ever visited Hastings. This suggests that the Dean position might be a royal sinecure, entitling Becket to the rental income attached to the position.

Guest soloists Portuguese tenor Leonel Pinheiro and baritone Ricardo Panela return to join acclaimed Welsh soprano, Ellen Williams, who makes her Hastings Philharmonic debut. Ellen was praised by the Guardian newspaper for her “poise and promise, her voice agile with silvery charm”. The Hastings Philharmonic Percussion Ensemble led by Ed Scull and two pianists, Francis Rayner and Stephanie Gurga, will accompany the choir.

Together the two pianists also play the rarely performed Brahms Sonata for two pianos. All in all, this would make be a wonderful experience for an under 18 teenager or student for whom entrance is free at the door.

Tickets for this concert at St Mary in the Castle are available from the Hastings Information Centre; the Bookkeeper, Kings Road, St Leonards or from the online box office. To reserve tickets to be collected from the theatre box office on the night, email christopher.cormack@gmail.com Ticket prices: £20.00 (boxes) / £17.50 (stalls) / £15.50 (balcony), under 18s and students: free entry at the door on the night.

Image Credits: Hastings Philharmonic.

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