On 28 April the Vatican will offer its first live streamed performance from the Sistine Chapel. The concert is for a private audience but will be available to view online for one month via Classic FM’s website.
The Sixteen choir and Britten Sinfonia will perform James MacMillan’s Stabat Mater under the baton of Harry Christophers. It is a rare opportunity for a non-Vatican ensemble to play in the chapel.
Genesis Foundation is presenting the concert, having originally commissioned MacMillan’s piece. Stabat Mater received its world premier at the Barbican Centre in October 2016, with a recording released on The Sixteen’s own label CORO in March 2017.
“James digs deep underneath the surface of this 13th century Marian hymn meditating on Mary’s suffering as she stands at the foot of the cross,” said Christophers. “He speaks of ‘a painful world of loss, violence and spiritual desolation’ and the score is packed to the full with those intense feelings. [We] cannot wait to perform this masterpiece in the Sistine Chapel.”
Other composers to pair the prayer with music include Dvořák, Rossini, Poulence, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi and Karol Szymanowski. The 216-word text examines the suffering of Mary as she watches Jesus on the cross. It has been attributed to both Jacopone da Todi and Pope Innocent III.