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Wonderous Witchert

by Hugh Stradling – 17th November 2013
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"They just go on getting better!"

Witchert Chorale again enthralled an audience that filled St Mary's Church, Haddenham on Saturday evening, hosted by the Village Society to raise money for various charities.

The first half of the concert was devoted to Johann Sebastian Bach's music. But who was he? No lecture on Bach could have enabled us to enter into something of his life unless he had appeared in the guise of Ed Cairns. Ed enabled us to have insight into the life and struggles of this composer in a most educationally entertaining way – it was a brilliant approach. The Witchert Chorale, the Trinity Camerata chamber orchestra, and soloists, Lynne Mills, Teraesa Richards, Elizabeth Deacon, Jonathan Todd and Ashley Francis-Roy treated us to three beautiful works – "Lobet den Herrn", Sanctus in C, and the Magnificat in D. What a treat too!

An interval of nibbles and wine supplied by the Village Society was a great time to hear the superlatives floating about, praising the musicians for such a stunning performance – so far . . .

The Trinity Camarata, formed only 9 years ago, gave very beautiful performances of a William Boyce symphony (No 5) and the "Suite Mignonne" by Jean Sibelius. Following this, the Witchert Chorale returned to give us a luscious rendering of the Mozart "Ave Verum". After this we heard works by early 20th century composers, Stanford and Parry, opening our eyes, I think, to a period not often heard of late, but again very beautiful music. As has been a feature of previous concerts by the Witchert Chorale, they demonstrated their delight in a wide variety of styles by singing two nursery rhymes before finishing with "Over the Rainbow" by Harold Arden.

Of course, such a concert could only be brought together by a really superb concert master and David Quinn is to be congratulated on bringing us such a high quality performance again. We look forward to future concerts which I am sure will be even better (if that's possible!). Thank you to all those concerned for a delightful evening.

Hugh Stradling

And Andrew Gordon adds:

It was not for nothing that a Telegraph property correspondent recently described Haddenham as 'the Paris of Aylesbury Vale', in reference to the wealth of cultural talent and events in the region and in our village in particular. The correspondent no doubt had a performance of the Witchert Chorale in mind. This group is not by any means your 'normal' village choir, playing to a captive audience of relatives and friends. The Witchert Chorale fill their venues and are establishing an ever wider reputation for polished entertainment and musical excellence.

This year the choir has been singing in Berlin, returning a visit by a German choir to Haddenham last year. The resulting cultural enrichment was evident at last Saturday's performance, entitled 'Back to Bach'. The choir, together with the Trinity Camerata orchestra, easily persuaded us that we had landed in a real Bach environment, perhaps in Leipzig or Dresden. The cleanness of sound, the precision of pauses and their ensuing silence, the passion of delivery and the musical drama gave us a Magnificat that Bach himself would have enjoyed.

But along with the serious works there was plenty of fun. Ed Cairns's genial impersonation of the composer gave us some helpful Bach orientation as well as some good laughs. The musical version of nursery rhymes was light-hearted but technically demanding, giving different groups within the choir their chance to shine. Finally, to send us on our way, we had a rendering of Brahms's Lullaby (Guten Abend, Gute Nacht), which a good few of the audience were happily humming together as they headed home.

The conductor and musical director is David Quinn, who sets the high standard and extracts such excellence from his performers. Haddenham should rejoice in its good fortune.

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