~ From Britten to Parry: Summer Concert ~

Summer Concert2 Ross(web)Summer Concert1 Ross(web) On Saturday 25th June the Abbey Choir gave its final concert for the year in the abbey to an appreciative audience.  Following the choir’s performance earlier in the spring of renessaisance music for Tenebrae, the summer concert focused on English choral music. The concert began with Give unto the Lord by Edward Elgar.  Elgar wrote this piece to mark the 200th anniversary of the Sons of the Clergy in St Paul’s Cathedral.  Both the Choir and organ blended well to bring out all the Elgarian hallmarks in melody, expression, phrasing and changing tempo found in this piece.The Five Mystical Songs are a setting of poems by George Herbert set to music by Vaughan Williams in 1908.  Despite his declared atheism, the composer was inspired throughout his life by the music and liturgy of the Anglican church and the visionary qualities of religious verse such as Herbert’s.  The baritone solos, which appear in the first three pieces, where sung beautifully by David Bellinger. 

The concert also included a performance of Vaughan Williams‚Äô Mass in G minor for double choir.¬† Appropriately enough for a summer concert, Vaughan Williams wrote this piece in his most ‚ÄúEnglish Summertime‚ÄĚ moment.¬† The piece is full of rich harmonies, which the choir brought out with great sensitivity.

Rejoice in the Lamb is one of Britten’s most popular and delightful choral compositions.  It abounds in light-hearted detail, unusual rhythms, short but beautiful lyrical excerpts and some of the most original choral music written.  For any choir it is a challenge to sing, but one which the Abbey choir met very ably.  Britten extracted passages from a text by Christopher Smart, an 18th century poet.  In the cantata all creatures offer worship to God.  In the fourth section, Smart’s cat Jeoffry   offers praise to God.  Britten set this for treble solo, which was sung beautifully by George Johnson at the concert.

The concert featured compositions by two living composers Рone by Philip Moore of Salisbury Cathedral and another by Christopher Eastwood of Ealing Abbey!  Both pieces All wisdom cometh from the Lord and Come Holy Ghost centred on plainsong themes.

It was wonderful to have two organ pieces by Frank Bridges and Francis Pott.  This concert was the last one for our organist Simon Hogan and what a performance he left us with!

The concert concluded with CH Parry’s rousing and now royal favourite for 2011 РI was Glad.   Judging by the audience’s applause it was also a   favourite of theirs.  The concert was a wonderful way to end the choir year.  A lot of hard work was put into the evening, particularly by Chris Eastwood.  The evening also raised £1,100 for the choir’s charity Aid to the Church in Need.  This means the choir has raised over £5,000 for this charity in the past twelve months.  Long may it continue!