Just wow. I had to start writing this on my phone, whilst still in the car on the way back to Sussex. What an amazing day. Let me explain: yesterday (by the time I’ve posted this, it’ll be yesterday) the English Arts Chorale ventured forth to wonderful Cambridge. I most certainly think we were worthy.
The venue was the astounding chapel of St. John’s College, Cambridge – those of you in “the know” as it were will be aware that very few “outside” choirs (i.e. not affiliated with Cambridge) ever get to sing at St. John’s. So this is Important Point No. 1.
Important Point No. 2 is that our programme for the evening’s concert consisted of Rutter and Ledger, two still-alive-and-composing (not decomposing) composers, both of whom are strongly affiliated with Cambridge.
This links in to Important Point No. 3: Sir Philip Ledger (whose requiem we performed) was in the audience. Oh yes he was. Apparently he very much liked our concert. This is what they call Big News.
(As a side note, my own personal Important Point No. 4 is that I got a very little solo in the Ledger – eeeee. It went well. Hurrah!)
The concert went splendidly. It didn’t suffer from the minor points of error that our Dorking rendition did: we had learned to control our puppy-dog enthusiasm in the “Hosanna” section of the Ledger, so that it didn’t trip over its own ears.
While it wasn’t Completely And Utterly Fault Free (some timing difficulties, plus I believe the harpist lost a string, which may or may not have been the reason he came in a beat early in the Sanctus of the Rutter – we recovered quickly), it was a brilliant evening. We adjusted to the different acoustic, and the fact that we had not only an organ but a mini-orchestra to deal with, rather swiftly.
While I have my reservations about the “magic” of the first half, the second half was sublime. Jay Britton’s soaring top notes were sublime, and I believe at one point Les had to stop to wipe his eyes. His Cheshire Cat Grin was back by the time we took the applause.
A magical evening. The minor errors illustrate that we are still human, but the music was transcendent.
Image credits: all taken by me! It was a long day (left Sussex at 9am, only got back in at 12:30am the following morning!). Sorry there are no pictures of the interior of the chapel – photography is strictly prohibited without prior arrangement.