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On Wednesday 21 March, Hereford Cathedral School’s Music Outreach programme will perform the famous Haydn ‘Nelson’ Mass at Hereford Cathedral, and the public are invited to come along and watch what experts call the greatest work ever composed by Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809). Haydn, who composed alongside Mozart and Beethoven in Vienna during the Napoleonic war period, was so respected across Europe that when Napoleon invaded Vienna he put two sentry guards on watch outside Haydn’s house to keep him safe.

It was ironic, then, that the very first performance of Haydn’s Mass took place on the very day that Napoleon was defeated in the Battle of the Nile by Admiral Horatio Nelson. The Mass thus acquired the nickname the ‘Lord Nelson Mass’. Lord Nelson later visited the Palais Esterházy accompanied by his British mistress, Lady Hamilton, and may have heard the Mass performed. At 7pm on Wednesday 21 March an enormous group of musicians including singers, orchestras, soloists and even a Year 10 schoolboy directing from the harpsichord, will re-enact the Nelson mass. Hereford Cathedral School’s Director of Music, David Evans, has been visiting schools in Herefordshire to rehearse with young musicians and says this epic concert will be an important coming together of all the school’s Music Outreach members.

“This is the major showpiece concert of the year for our Music Outreach programme. It is all-inclusive and welcomes in performers from five other schools and choirs to join our own 200 performers,” he said.

“I am also delighted to announce our new links with the National Conservatoire of Wales, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Hereford Cathedral School is honoured to welcome students from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama who have joined us in the orchestra for the Haydn Mass. We are proud of the new links created between our two educational establishments and in particular our outreach projects. This is an incredible opportunity and we look forward to welcoming students from Cardiff again, and to closer links in the months ahead.”

As well as soloists and musicians from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, there will be 200 pupils from Hereford Cathedral School performing plus a further 100 pupils from a range of schools and singing groups. These include pupils from St Paul’s CofE Primary School, Mordiford School, Aylestone School and Rougemont School in Newport, as well as Hereford Cathedral School’s weekend outreach singing group, The Saturday Morning School Singers.

Special concert pieces in Haydn’s ‘Nelson’ Mass include Haydn, Bach and Mozart plus work from the Italian composer Gioachino Rossini. Soloists include former Hereford Cathedral School pupil Rachel Roper who now studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Current students in solo concerto roles include Lily C playing a Mozart Clarinet Concerto, Livi VW playing Brandenburg Concerto No.5 on the violin and student Michael D who will be directing the orchestra in the Bach, Brandenburg from the harpsichord.

Tickets for the Haydn ‘Nelson’ Mass are available from Hereford Cathedral Music School and cost £10 each. Please call 01432 363531 to book.