Last night I went to a splendid concert of Purcell at Westminster Abbey – the church with which he was associated for much of his life (he lived just around the corner, too). The highlight – taken slowly for the reverberant Abbey acoustic – was the 1692 St Cecilia Ode, ‘Hail Bright Cecilia’, reputedly the first time an English (or British) composer wrote for full baroque orchestra. There was something very special about hearing Purcell’s music in a place where he worked so much, and by the successors of a group of musicians (the Abbey Choir) of which he was once a member. There are details here.
This is Purcell weekend on Radio 3, marking the 350th anniversary of his death; Sunday, 22 November, is also St Cecilia’s Day. The concert will be broadcast on Radio 3 at 6.30 pm on Sunday evening, and will then be available for a week through the ‘Listen Again’ facility. It’s strongly recommended.