“This is my favourite bit,” said a Junior chorister at one rehearsal. It caused me to ponder which was my “favourite bit”. Was it the dancelike Lacrimosa, the angry Dies irae, or the agonising beauty of Hostia …? Eventually I decided that it was the juxtaposition of each movement which took me through a whole emotional range and made the experience of singing Mozart’s Requiem on Good Friday such a memorable occasion.
We were joined by an orchestra, which added tremendously to the sense of occasion, the quality of the music and the performance as a whole. The parts were augmented by a few scholar alumni and a few choir friends whilst talented members of the regular choir sang the solos.
We are privileged to have such a talented, inspirational and creative director of music, Oli King, and such a committed accompanist, for the rehearsal, Jeremy Allen, and also to have the finances and the opportunity to worship God in this way.
Easter Sunday 16 April 2017
The ten o’clock service was opened with the timeless Eastertide classic of ‘Jesus Christ is Risen Today’. The brass band and choir were all set up at the front and there was a sense of joyful anticipation in the air although I’m not sure how much of that was at the prospect of the chocolate that was to come later in the day, while up at the front stood the Church’s new candle for the year, first lit at Easter Eve. Many excited children were involved in the talk given by David in the sermon, where the symbolism of eggs at Easter, and the possibility of new life from Jesus’ rising from the grave after his crucifixion were discussed, and of course more chocolate was shared. The mood in response to the Good News was reflected by the hymns and anthems that followed, which began with the gentle Peter Nardone song ‘I give to you a new commandment’, conveying the message of sharing God’s love with each other, and was followed by the traditional piece ‘This Joyful Eastertide’ arranged by Charles Wood, which is a very happy tune, and made even more bright and jolly at the end, particularly with the brass accompaniment for Handel’s ‘Hallelujah’ chorus to end the service grandly, which involved the whole congregation. Other cheerful Easter tunes such as ‘Thine be the Glory’, ‘Now the Green Blade Riseth’, and the Noel Rawsthorne mass setting also contributed to the upbeat mood.
Festivities did not stop come evensong at half past six, where we had the pleasure of singing both Charles Wood’s Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in D, a rather pleasant piece, and the ever exuberant ‘I was Glad’ by Hubert Parry, an anthem commonly sung at coronations, making the Easter message just as bright and happy as it was in the morning. The sermon was given by Tim Hardingham, explaining the inspiring message that Christ’s rising from the dead opens new doorways to show love to one another as a means of serving God throughout our lives, demonstrated by the faithful discipleship of Mary Magdalene all the way to the end of Jesus’ life. To end the evening, the choir processed out to the Sarabande (from ‘Six Pieces’) by Howells, drawing the chirpy celebrations to a close.
Other choir news
Congratulations go to Isaac for being named the most improved Junior chorister, and to Noah for being made deputy head chorister. Congratulations are also due to George for passing his Singing Grade IV with distinction. The choir is still hoping to recruit a bass singer (see notice below).
Are you a bass and do you have reasonable note-reading ability? The Adult Choir at St. Mary’s are currently looking to recruit a singer to join their bass section. If you are interested, and would like to find out more, please contact Director of Music Oli King or SMMA Chair Bron Ferland, both at 07928 339310 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The St. Mary’s Saffron Walden Wednesday lunchtime concerts, 2017
Finally, a reminder that the lunchtime recitals start on 31 May. The programme follows below:
All concerts will start at 1.10 p.m. and last approximately 40 minutes. Refreshments will be available from 12.30 p.m.
31st: Karin Fischer-Buder & Jane Van Tilborg (soprano and piano)
7th: Philip Sunderland (organ)
14th: Semplice (vocal group directed by Carolyn Castledine)
21st: John Dillistone (organ)
28th: Ellen Sarewitz and Stephen Penton (soprano and piano)
5th: Anna Le Hair & Arwen Newband (violin duo)
12th: Andrew Smith & Peter Arnold (clarinet & piano)
19th: Diana Hoy and Wendy Watts (contralto and piano)