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Review: Dvorak’s Stabat Mater at Lichfield Cathedral

Lichfield Cathedral was filled with talented local musicians when Lichfield Cathedral Chorus, four classical singers, and The Darwin Ensemble Chamber Orchestra convened to perform Antonin Dvorak’s Stabat Mater.

The music of the ten movement piece was inspired by the loss of Dvorak’s daughter, with the text probably taken from the work of the 13th Century writer Bonaventura Fidanza, which was a work of 20 Latin triplets on the agony faced by Mary at the crucifixion.

The massed voices of the Cathedral Chorus and the playing of the Darwin Ensemble Chamber Orchestra added majesty to the four voices of Gillian Rae-Walker, Hanna-Liisa Kirchin, Edward Rimmer and Philip Lancaster, while everything was under the steady hand off conductor Benjamin Lamb.

Although the music was packed full of pathos and sadness, there were also moments of transcendent beauty, particularly during the opening part, or part four, which was a solo for bass and chorus, while the closing three pieces built to a powerfully uplifting finale.

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