Requiem and Lo, the Full, Final Sacrifice
The large audience at the ancient church of St Mary’s, Standon were taken on a reflective and emotional journey during the RCS Spring Concert. Conductor Andrew O’Brien showed his deep understanding of English choral music and through his inspiring direction coaxed the most exquisite dynamic contrasts from both the choir and the Haileybury Consort.
The programme opened with the hushed strains of Stainer’s ‘God so loved the world’, the choir responding readily to Andrew’s meticulous attention to detail and giving this familiar piece a new freshness. Bullock’s ‘Give us the wings of faith’ was interpreted with appropriate drama and the choir reached a ‘promised rest’ that was ethereal. Who could fail to be uplifted by John Ireland’s ‘Greater love hath no man’? We enjoyed solos from young performers Thomas Scrope and Hugh Reid and the choir took us dramatically ‘out of darkness’ into ‘His marvelous light’.
Not only did organist James Perkins provide expert and beautifully crafted accompaniment throughout the concert but he also treated us to Howells’ organ solo ‘Paen’, which he executed with rarely heard proficiency and exuberance.
The first half ended with Finzi’s extended anthem ‘Lo the full, final sacrifice’. What tremendous interaction there was between organ and voices, particularly special moments being the poignant treble solo ‘Live ever, Bread of loves and be my life, my soul, my surer self to me’, a duet from two young Haileybury choristers, Harry Pearce and Michael Ochman-Bates and the consoling ‘Amen' sung gently and mystically by the choir.
The second half of the concert was devoted to Rutter’s Requiem, delivered with conviction and sensitivity. The Haileybury Consort joined the choir in this intimate performance and the audience were drawn in to share in the music. Young soprano, Amelie Watmough sang with confidence and clarity as she soared effortlessly to the top notes in ‘Pie Jesu’. This concert enabled us to glimpse something of the ‘eternal light’. I look forward to sharing more musical adventures with this choir under its dynamic director.