O Sacrum Convivium (O Sacred Banquet) is a short unaccompanied motet by Olivier Messiaen, written in 1937. Surprisingly, it his only liturgical work for Messiaen was a deeply religious man and his inner spiritual life was one of the main inspirations of his compositional output. Lasting only a few minutes this short work encapsulates Messiaen’s approach to tonality with harmonies that subtly shift and refract like the stained glass in Cocteau’s window from Notre-Dame de Jérusalem on our poster.
It is around this stunning work that we have built our autumn programme, offering works by five French composers from the end of the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries.
Best well known is surely the Cantique de Jean Racine by Gabriel Fauré together, perhaps, with Maurice Duruflé’s 4 motets sur des thèmes grégorien. We will also sing Marcel Dupré’s impressive 4 motets, and Francis Poulenc’s wonderful 4 Motets pour un Temps de Péntitence and his Salve Regina, undoubtedly amongst the finest works of this repertoire. Finally, you will hear a rarely heard Pie Jesu by Armand Vivet and the exquisite Hymne à la Vierge by Pierre Villette.
So, do come and hear the choir sing this wonderful music, music which is imbued with that uniquely French harmonic language and which I guarantee will linger long in your memory.