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Monday, March 10, 2014


Downton Abbey is by far one of the most, if not the most, watched show on television right now.  Its popularity is due to the strong cast and wonderful storylines – a combination that wins every time.

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Oratorio Society Of Minnesota’s concert at St. Mark’s Cathedral.  The concert, entitled “The Music Of Downton Abbey,” featured the music of the post-Edwardian period that the show takes place in, and paired it with historical events that were placed in the timeline of the series. The result was simply amazing!!!

St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Minneapolis.

After a few brief announcements . . .

. . . The concert began.

Lady Alice, Duchess of Kirkwood (played by actress Marsha Smith), a fictitious member of the family and frequent guest at Downton Abbey, led us through the evening.  This proved to be a brilliant move on conductor, Matthew Mehaffey’s part, as doing this gave continuity to the music, while intimately setting it within the context of the family and the house.

"Lady Alice, Duchess of Kirkwood" (actress Marsha Smith), led us through the evening 
with her informative narrations.

This grand music soared throughout the Gothic Cathedral.

Dr. Matthew Mehaffey, Artistic Director and Conductor 
of the Oratorio Society of Minnesota.

The music itself, most of which was new to me, was wonderful, and included two U.S. premiers (Patrick Hadley’s Nightfall, and Sydney Nicholson’s Beloved, Let Us Love) and one world premier (Benjamin Dale’s Crossing The Bar, recently rediscover 100 years after it was composed).  In addition, three audience participation songs, C.H.H. Parry’s Jerusalem, Gustav Holst’s I Vow To Thee My Country, and the ever popular, Rule Britannia by Thomas Arne, were also interspersed throughout the concert.

Over 100 musicians - the combined choral and orchestral forces - facilitated 
our musical journey that evening.

During intermission, guests were able to have their photos take in front of Downton Abbey.  Copies could then be download later from the Oratorio Society's website.

Some of  the ushers dressed in period costumes which aded to the fun of the evening.

The incredible acoustics and Gothic design of St. Mark’s allowed the music to soar, and provided the perfect setting for the concert.  We truly felt as though we had been transported back to the beginning of the 20th Century.  Even some of the ushers performed their duties in costume which enhanced the ambience.  In keeping with the Downton Abbey theme, concert goers were able to have their photos taken in front of a screen of Downton Abbey.  It was just another way to carry the theme – and the fun – forward throughout the evening.

Lady Alice, kept a watchful eye on all of the goings on that evening.

Rule Britannia!!!

At 800 seats, this must see concert sold out quickly, however due to its popularity, a second concert has been added for this weekend.  Information on that performance may be found here.  If you are available, I highly recommend you attend this event.  Matthew Mahaffey, and the Oratorio Society of Minnesota have put together an amazing evening and you will not be disappointed.  Britannia may rule the waves, but The Music Of Downton Abbey rules the weekend!

(UPDATED PHOTO: My friend Carol and I took our turn in front of the Abbey!)

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