Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Musical Interlude: Summer Concert at St Stephen's, Gloucester Road

 A lot of people I know belong to church choirs so I've had it up to here with requiems. When my next-door neighbour, slipped a leaflet through the door, I wasn't overjoyed.  But we're keen to support her and we've enjoyed previous concerts by the group she belongs to, the Hanover Choir. The church is a short walk from Gloucester Road tube and  there's a homely welcome from the Welsh conductor plus  wine and mince pies or other refreshments in the interval. I like the added drama of the church setting.

I tend to daydream during classical concerts, preferring  operas and musicals.There was  a strong tradition of singing in pubs in my home town in Lancashire, one reason why I relate so easily to Terence Davies' films. Alternatively,  I'd like to have lived in the days when people gathered for genteel evenings that included card games, when people took turns to entertain the company by singing.One of my favourite scenes in Pride and Prejudice is where the over-eager Mary has to be reined in by Mr Bennett.

I do like Mozart, so I was pleased that the programme included a Mozart Vespers. He wrote it, according to the programme notes,to commemorate the  death of his pet starling. I liked the parallel Latin/English text, too. The  soprano soloist was slightly built but had a  suprisingly  sonorous voice, ideally suited to the church. The tenor soloist, a rather gaunt young man with glasses,  had a whole Schubert love song to himself.

The secular theme continued in the second half, which  included a  series of Aesop's fables set to music by a British composer called Ben Chilcott. I remembered reading some of them in school: The Hare and the Tortoise, The Fox and the Grapes, and the one where the sun and the wind who have a competition to see who can make a traveller take his coat off.

I hope this trend away from requiems continues.

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