Music News – Dec 2018/Jan 2019
At the very start of November Oliver King gave the final organ recital in this year’s occasional series, entitled ‘Music for the start of Remembrance Week’. As always, he drew a large audience (in fact the largest for any concert this year) and entertained them with music by JS Bach, A Sullivan, C Franck, P Eben, H Howells, E Gigout, H Parry and M Dupré. The piece by Eben in particular was perfect for the big screen as it involved both hands moving together rapidly from one keyboard to another – and made one wonder how Oli could be certain he’d hit the correct chords! Hearing Oli and Jeremy play week by week without being able to follow the movements of hands and feet we frequently take their skill and dexterity for granted. It was a delightful programme and very well received.
During the initial two Fridays in the month Gill Gibson attended two Junior practices and ensured that robes were a good fit and an appropriate length! We don’t carry a surplus stock of robes and you will appreciate that Juniors come in a variety of sizes! They also have a tendency to suddenly grow several inches taller so Gill’s sewing skills are frequently needed to let down and take up hems depending on the individual needs. Thanks to Gill’s skill and vigilance (I rarely notice the growth issue until there are several inches of leg showing beneath the robes!) the Juniors were all beautifully arrayed for Remembrance Day, when they are very visible to the congregation as they stand at the front of the church.
The Civic Service began with a very simple new piece called ‘Peace, white dove’ and included a favourite anthem for the day, Irving’s ‘For the Fallen’.
This Remembrance Day of course marked the centenary of the end of the First World War, the ‘War to end all wars’ as it was called – until just twenty one years later the unthinkable happened and the Second World War began. In its scope, involving so many nations and horrific death tolls WW1 was completely different from previous warfare. The Devotional Offering was a programme to reflect the ever changing emotions around warfare beginning with a very popular song of the times, ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’, written at the start of the conflict before the true horrors faced by so many were even dreamt of. Britten’s Agnus Dei (War Requiem) set to music the poem by Wilfred Owen, who himself experienced the worst of it all, and died just a few days before the war ended. Elgar’s beautiful song ‘They are at rest’ although written some time before reflects how we now think of all the Fallen. Holst’s ‘Turn back O Man’ expresses the hope that mankind could one day reject all that leads to conflict, whilst the modern ‘Peace, white dove’ (Dolinski), this time with the Juniors singing the first stanza alone, is a wistful longing for peace.
We all want to live in a peaceful world, and we concluded with a performance of Part Three of Handel’s Messiah, which reflects the Christian viewpoint of the triumph of life over death. This was accompanied by a group of friends playing strings and trumpets joined by Jeremy on the chamber organ, whilst all the solos were sung by members of our choir. Three readings appropriate to the day were selected by the Rector, and again, read by choir members.
It was a great undertaking for this very special day, but there can be no slowing down: Advent Sunday is but three weeks away!