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Concert to celebrate the music of Britain

Kristin Ditlow and John Yuan will conduct “Hail, Brittania” with the NMPhil and the University of New Mexico Chamber Singers.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — With the royal wedding weeks away, the New Mexico Philharmonic and the University of New Mexico Chamber Singers will pay tribute to the music of Britain on Saturday, April 28.

The timing of the concert at the United Methodist Church is both coincidental and fortuitous, said Kristin Ditlow, co-conductor with her husband, John Yuan.

The program spans five centuries, ranging from the Elizabethan music of Thomas Tallis to 20th-century composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.

The musicians will open with – what else? – “Hail, Britannia!” in the premiere of a Ditlow arrangement.

“The audience will be asked to sing along to the refrain,” she said.

The musicians will perform excerpts from Henry Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas,” an opera based on Virgil’s “Aneid.” It tells the story of the Trojan war hero Aeneas, who comes to Carthage, meets Queen Dido and falls in love.

Williams took Thomas Tallis’ four-part Anglican chant and expanded on it in his “Fantasia.”

Tallis was renowned for writing church music known as the psalter, a book of songs based on the psalms.

Williams “just takes this and he turns it around,” Ditlow said. “He gives solos to various people, he varies the tempos and the time signatures, just in the way a jazz musician might improvise.”

George Frideric Handel’s 10-movement Dixit Dominus was based on Psalm 110.

“This is one of the more violent” psalms, Ditlow said. “In the opening movement, it talks about making a footstool out of your enemies. It’s certainly very energetic.”

Orchestral musicians from both Jackson and Cleveland middle schools will perform from the church balconies.

The concert will close with “God Save the Queen.”

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