By Caroline Armstrong - 19th February 2013 7:00am
On Sunday 17th February, the Haddenham-based choir, the Witchert Chorale, travelled to London to sing in the beautiful setting of Christopher Wren's St Clement Danes Church in the Strand. Below, Caroline Armstrong shares her experiences.
"What a delightful way to spend a late Sunday afternoon"
The Chorale was formed in 2004 by a group of singers from Haddenham. They seem to have gone from strength to strength, as their performance this last Sunday testifies. You have to be pretty darn good to sing convincingly in the beautiful and acoustic surroundings of such a glorious London church.
As part of the Brandenburg Choral Festival London 2013, 'Music is the Food of Love' was a musical reflection on love through the ages, from Purcell to Rutter, barbershop and beyond. We duly appeared — late I have to say — and were bowled over by the magical singing as we came inside the doors of St Clement's. Having missed 'English & Irish' song, opening the programme, we were met with 'Sacred Song' — which was a sheer delight after the roar of the traffic.
So we were treated to William Byrd's Ave Verum Corpus, followed by Grieg's Ave Maris Stella and John Joubert's There is No Rose. The emotion and reverence was palpable and our minds instantly stilled from our tumultuous journey from West London. We were so taken that we just sat in wonder and gazed at our surroundings. "These guys are good", I whispered.
Conductor David Quinn then took us through an appraisal of the next trio of 'German Song' and we both found his manner engaging and gently humorous. How good too, to have a few pointers! Brahms' songs are not my personal favourites. However the selection was both balanced and joyful.
Then two delightful French choices from around 1530. Cheerful, jolly and rousing and yes, the French was immaculate. So not only do the Witchert Chorale sing beautifully, they are able to take on with verve and aplomb German, French and Italian material — and Latin of course.
At all times The Witchert's shared their sense of real pleasure and ease at being together and a deep enjoyment of music and their art. The Tourdion in the French Song section was a lively song — a drinking and dancing song in fact — and marked the interval, whereon they all gaily marched down the aisle and out towards the exit! So they sing well and convey the spirit of their material in an easy, engaging manner!
The Interval was followed by Barbershop and Glee and Madrigals. All lightly and deftly handled. Bet you wouldn't have thought to put the Beatles 'Can't Buy me Love' to a Madrigal? Well, nor would we but the joyful result had everyone smiling. Loved it, in fact......
And then we had Popular Song, again with much vivacity and gentle humour. In fact Conductor David just seem to relax more and more into the role of benevolent, clever and witty compere, with his merry troupe of singers.
These guys are good, believe me, and we would be happy to see them again.