The good citizens of Littlebourne got more than they bargained for when they wrote to me last Autumn, inviting the Music Department to provide a concert for them. Last week, to their surprise, not one but two choirs arrived at St. Vincent’s Church, Littlebourne, for a concert of choral music.
The evening was shared between the University’s Chamber Choir, who were returning for the second year running, and an ensemble new to the University, the Cecilian Choir. Directed with authority by third-year Drama student Amy Clarke, the Chamber Choir explored a varied repertoire, ranging from Schütz’s eight-part German Magnificat for double choir, and Bruckner’s Os Iusti to the wonderfully luminous Lux Aurumque by Whitacre, featuring some ethereal top notes from the sopranos. Tučapský’s Five Lenten Motets brought a suitably seasonal feel to the concert, and the concert ended with a lyrical rendition of Vaughan Williams’ folk-song settings.
The occasion was also the inaugural concert for the University’s Cecilian Choir, founded back in November as an opportunity for students, staff and alumni to make music on a smaller scale as a companion to the University Chorus. The group is a fine example of the nature of music-making across the university community observed in a previous post. Directed by Dan Harding, they gave a spirited performance of Vivaldi’s Gloria, with a profound exploration of the dissonances of the second movement, Et in terra pax hominibus. There was also high drama in the Domine Deus, Rex coelestis which pitches a solo voice against a beseeching chorus. Soloists were drawn from students and staff alike. The choir also sang two short but colourful motets by Howard Skempton, who is fast becoming a favourite of the University concert programmes.
St. Vincent’s Church has a window in the south aisle dedicated to St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music, after whom the Cecilian Choir is named, and it was a fitting place for the choir in which to make their debut performance. The saint would have been delighted to hear the music of both choirs, we hope.
Congratulations to all the musical staff, students and alumni who took part. I wonder how many choirs will turn up next year ?
The programme for the entire concert can be viewed here.