It was a privilege on the last day of January to be sitting the award-winning Cradley church of St James the Great listening and toe-tapping to ‘Bach and the Dance’.   The atmosphere was warm, welcoming and vibrant and the church was full of joyous music.

This was all thanks to the inspiring  violinist Professor Margaret Faultless who brought her ‘Music for Awhile’,  of which she is artistic director, back to Herefordshire. 

The programme started with the first Bach Orchestral Suite (or ouverture) BWV 1066.  This genre was extremely popular in Germany in Bach’s day and was a term used for a suite of dance pieces in the French Baroque style.

For those trained dancers in the audience, the different rhythms and related names of each section were easily recognised and a few bobbing heads and moving feet in the pews were spotted!

Margaret Faultless was joined by an excellent young ‘team’ of musicians.  An inspiring, youthful cellist, Hugh Mackay played the Courante and Bouree with exceptional vivacity.  It was a treat to listen to violinist Nia Lewis  and viola player Anna Curzon and a highlight to hear Sarabande played so beautifully by Emma Halnan.

Hereford Cathedral School Chamber Orchestra, led by Music for Awhile and Michael D’Avanzo, performing his magic on the St James the Great organ, entertained the appreciative audience with a Handel Organ Concerto.  The hard work and dedication of both Margaret Faultless and her pupils was evident in this impressive, semi-professional performance.

At the conclusion of the Concerto, a lot of movement of chairs, instruments and musicians made way for the HCS Gilbert Consort.

A variety of strange instruments (such as a crumhorn, resembling a miniature hockey stick!) were expertly played by five early music HCS enthusiasts and the beautiful voice of Isabel D’Avanzo sang clear and true in the highly emotive “Mignonne’.

After this jovial interlude, the church rafters were once again filled with the final Bach Orchestral Suite BWV 1067 played by Music for Awhile.

No one wanted the music of the dance to stop but sadly it did – to resounding applause.

MIQP is extremely grateful the The Cecil King Foundation for making this inspiring concert possible and the dedication of both Margaret Faultless and David Evans in bringing together Music of Awhile and talented HCS young musicians to inspire and delight.

Visiting Church Mouse

February 2020

Herefordshire Historic Churches Trust