May Choral Evensong
Accompanied by lovely evening sunshine outside, Evensong on May 14th was a stirring and thought-provoking service and the Choir were on excellent form. There was an interesting contrast in the theme of Psalm 147, beautifully sung by the Choir, with its jubilant lyrics in praise of God, and a little later the exquisite anthem ‘Hear my Prayer’ by Mendelssohn, the lyrics of which are adapted from Psalm 55 and express a soul’s despair, a mind’s anguish, and a heart’s desire for sanctuary and peace. The soloists, Karin Fischer-Buder and Susie Beare, sang superbly, with a sweet and ardent clarity. The latter section with the full choir was particularly moving in its fugal interweaving building to a rich and radiant crescendo before subsiding again. ‘Rosace’ from Mulet’s Esquisses Byzantines for the organ, played by Jeremy, made a fitting finale piece, brilliantly executed, its contrasting motifs suggesting a spiritual battle in which good does indeed triumph – a sustaining thought at this point in Easter-tide, just before Ascension, and its theme somehow foreshadowing the recent horrific attacks that have both divided and united our nation – hope and love prevailing over hatred and despair.
Ascension Day was marked by a Choral Eucharist service in the evening, one of three additional evening services that the choir sings at around this time of year, with the Maundy Thursday recently, and Corpus Christi coming up on the 15th of June. The turnout among members of the choir was high, producing a beautiful sound in the church. Congratulations go to Eleanor Game who sang the solo in the mass setting by Jackson as part of her junior choir ribbon training. Another highlight of the service was Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, by J.S. Bach, enthusiastically sung by the choir. The Sovereign’s Fanfare, played on the organ, concluded the service.
Currently we are looking for children to join our two children’s choirs: Joyful Noise (for 6 – 8 year olds) and the Junior Choir (for 8 – 14 year olds).
Joyful Noise meets on most Friday afternoons in term time and is led by Kate Beare. They play musical games and percussion and learn a variety of songs. They usually do an informal concert for parents and friends each term, sing at one of the church’s Celebrate services each term and also have the occasional trip ‘out’, maybe to sing at Little Walden, or to sing at the annual town event to switch on the Christmas lights.
Eight year olds at Joyful Noise are invited to join the Junior Choir (which is affiliated to the Royal School of Church Music). The Juniors practice twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays. They then join the adults and Choral Scholars singing at some of the main services in church each month, including the 10 a.m. Parish Eucharist some weeks, the monthly service of Choral Evensong and also, usually on alternate months, the Juniors provide the choir for the Family Service. Oli tries to make the practices fun, with various light-hearted rounds, but also begins to instil in the children a knowledge of (and love for) the general choir repertoire. It was particularly lovely this year to see our two newest recruits, who as yet are not singing at services, taking a full part in singing the Fauré Requiem on Good Friday, with very obvious enjoyment! As they become more experienced the Juniors work towards achieving the RSCM ribbon awards.
The Juniors have their own outings which often involve attending an evensong at one of the Cambridge colleges as well as including a purely social or fun element! Last year they were invited to sing Evensong with the college choir at Jesus College. They also joined the adults singing Evensong at Southwark Cathedral a year ago and will be singing at Guildford Cathedral next year.
At this time of year we are getting ready to see some children from the Junior Choir move up to become Choral Scholars, and some from Joyful Noise moving into the Junior Choir, and thus there are spaces in each which we’d like to fill. This year we’d ideally like to recruit an additional six children to Joyful Noise and three to the Junior Choir. If you know of any children between the ages of 6 and 13 who might be interested do let us know! You could email on firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 07928 339 310 for further details of either group.
Following our very special visit to St David’s Cathedral two years ago we are very pleased to be spending a week as choir in residence at Llandaff Cathedral this summer. Plans for this are going ahead quietly behind the scene but also in the preparation of new music. We have been learning Basil Harwood’s Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in A flat and have been issued with a preliminary music list for the week. This includes such favourites as Cantique de Jean Racine (Faure), Like as a hart (Howells) and Hear my prayer (Mendelsohn) as well as some challenging new pieces.
Karin Fischer-Buder and Jane Van Tilborg started our season of lunchtime recitals with a delightful programme of varied and familiar pieces for soprano and piano. This was followed by a “brilliant” organ recital by Philip Sunderland. Other recitals included, or will include:
14th Semplice Vocal Group (directed by Carolyn Castledine)
21st Organ (John Dillistone)
28th Soprano and Piano (Ellen Sarewitz)
5th Violin Duo ( Anna Hair & Arwen Newband)
12th Clarinet and Piano (Andrew Smith & Peter Arnold)
19th Contralto and Piano (Diana Hoy and Wendy Watts)
All recitals start at 1.10 p.m. and last approx. 40 minutes. Refreshments are served from 12.30.