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Our next concert will be at Chandler's Ford Methodist Church, Winchester Rd, Chandlers Ford


Saturday 2nd February 2019 at 7.30pm




‘Hands Across the Ocean’ Concert

Winchester City Festival Choir, Thornden Hall, Chandler’s Ford – Sat 27/01/18 


GOD’S GRANDEUR by Briggs – premiere


The theme of this enterprising concert was Anglo-American connections, a very topical idea in view of the meeting that had taken place at the World Economic Forum in Davos two days earlier. A setting of Gerald Manley Hopkin’s poem ‘God’s Grandeur’ by David Briggs opened the evening. Briggs, who was organist at Gloucester Cathedral before a change of direction into composing and freelance virtuoso organ recitals, now lives in America. This piece, a world première specially commissioned by WCFC, contained some challenging vocal writing as well as a thrilling organ part. The choir rose to the challenge with enthusiasm and Richard McVeigh flooded Thornden Hall with the computerised sampled sounds of Hereford Cathedral organ. The choir are to be congratulated on stimulating the growth of new choral music.

2018 marks the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Leonard Bernstein, whose ‘Chichester Psalms’ were written for Chichester Cathedral. The mix of Hebrew language and Bernstein’s uncompromising harmonies are a test for any choir and WCFC threw themselves into his jazzy rhythms with panache. Rachel Cook, an ex-Winchester Cathedral chorister, gave a beautiful rendition of the blues-inflected Psalm 23.

John Rutter’s ‘Mass of the Children’ occupied the second half of the concert, for which the choir was joined by soprano Alexandra Stevenson, baritone Edmund Saddington and Romsey School’s Cantare! choir. Both soloists sang with clear diction and blended well with each other. Rutter’s lyrical lines emerged from the choir with a freshness of sound and with controlled tone in the soft sections. The youthful sound of Cantare! was particularly pleasing.

The first half of the concert featured a Sextet for Wind and Piano by American Gary Schocker, which was brilliantly played, full of colour and virtuoso moments. Pianist Gilly Slot also provided the upper part of the piano duet arrangement of Bernstein’s ‘Candide’ overture with conductor Graham Kidd as her partner. His enthusiasm and inspiration were a major factor in the success of the evening.

Duncan Eves

See previous reviews