Concert highlights Lord Nelson’s Worcester connections

10th of November, 2016

The performance of Haydn’s mighty Nelson Mass by 150 voices in Worcester Cathedral in November is providing a reminder of the City’s own, little-known connection to the naval hero.

Worcester Festival Choral Society will be performing the much-loved choral work at 7.30pm on Saturday 19th November, supported by the Meridian Sinfonia and soloists – well-known soprano Sarah Fox, mezzo-soprano Susanna Spicer, tenor Ruairi Bowen and baritone Andrew De Silva.

Ben Cooper, chairman of Worcester Festival Choral Society said: “In selecting Haydn’s Nelson Mass for this concert, we were reminded that Admiral Lord Nelson actually visited Worcester and the cathedral – and ordered a personalised Worcester dinner service – in 1802.

"The traces of his visit remain with us today, from the name of Copenhagen Street, to the magnificent ‘Nelson’ teapot and plate that are displayed in the Museum of Royal Worcester. It’s therefore both apt and exciting to be performing the Nelson Mass in Worcester Cathedral, which the hero himself visited more than 200 years ago. We’re looking forward to an exceptional concert!”

Haydn wrote the Nelson Mass in 1798, under the title Missa in Angustiis. It is thought that the piece gained its popular name soon after it was performed for Nelson during a visit to Austria in 1800, and a friendship developed between him and the composer.

Two years later Nelson visited Worcester as part of a tour of the West Country, with Emma and Sir William Hamilton. After a hero’s welcome to the City, Nelson visited Chamberlain’s China Works in Severn Street – the original Worcester porcelain – and Mr Chamberlain’s china shop opposite the Guildhall. There he ordered a large breakfast, dinner and dessert service decorated in the Fine Old Japan pattern. Nelson was also entertained in the Guildhall by the Mayor and presented with the Freedom of the City, before touring Worcester Cathedral. In Nelson’s honour, the street alongside the Guildhall was renamed Copenhagen Street.

Of the porcelain, only the breakfast service was completed before Nelson’s death at Trafalgar in 1805, and its pieces were later sold to buyers across the world. However, the impressive teapot and other pieces from the service were purchased for the Museum of Royal Worcester, and are on display there today.

Pictured: Worcester Festival Choral Society chairman and BBC Bargain Hunt antiques expert, Ben Cooper, admires the Lord Nelson teapot with Museum of Royal Worcester manager Amanda Savidge.

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