Clayesmore Society members enjoy a day of Choral Splendour
You never quite know how it will go when you advertise a “from scratch” musical event but those attending this year’s Choral Workshop soon realized that they were involved in something pretty special. Run this year by Director of Music, Keith Pigot, the assembled choir had a great day working on some choral warhorses, accompanied on the organ by headmaster, Martin Cooke.
Schubert’s ‘Mass in G major’ was the major work of the day and was greatly enjoyed with its contrasts of gentle lyricism and drama. With royal celebrations only around the corner, what choral director worth his or her salt wouldn’t have included pieces made famous by their royal connections this year? Keith provided ‘Zadok the Priest’ and the final solo and chorus from Handel’s oratorio ‘Samson – ‘Let the bright seraphim’ and ‘Let their celestial concerts all unite’ – as immortalized by their inclusion in HMR the Prince of Wales’ marriage to Lady Diana Spencer. Less popular with the scratch choir was a setting of Psalm 100 – ‘Make a joyful noise’ – by William Mathias but it brought variety and a change of style with its mild dissonances and syncopations that kept everyone on their toes.
When it came to the concert, the choir rose to the occasion splendidly. Not only was the Schubert note-perfect, but it was now complete with the beautiful semi-chorus Benedictus. In this and in the Agnus Dei with its solo sections, we were thrilled to have with us two young Old Clayesmorian sopranos, Charlotte Hewett and Laura Fairlie both of whom study at the Royal Northern College of Music. Another Old Clayesmorian,Tim Trenchard, took the tenor part in his usual inestimable style and current student, Ed Bragg, made an outstanding baritone.
Laura gave us a most stylish performance of Handel’s ‘Let the bright seraphim’ to which the choir responded with ‘Let their celestial concerts all resound.’ ‘Resound” was very much the right word – clearly this has become a favourite of the choir’s in this Diamond Jubilee year. Laura and Charlotte also joined forces to sing the well-known duet ‘Sound the trumpet’ from Purcell’s ‘Come, ye sons of art.’ This was a memorable event for all concerned and many participants will be looking forward with keen anticipation to next year’s workshop.