At the very start of the Autumn term, it is remarkable that a concert could be mounted at all; and yet a concert there was. The tiny choristers produced a good volume of sound – there were only ten of them – with some confident solo singing. They tackled modern pieces as well as works by Handel and Charpentier, one work only recently composed by Ben Vonberg-Clark,  a young choral conductor.

The extreme youth of the Chapel Royal choristers contrasted with the more mature voices from the Cathedral School, whose greater experience enabled them to sing mostly unaccompanied, with some challenging pieces such as John Sanders’ The Reproaches. This demands great accuracy in tempo and clear diction in the plainsong chant by the men which contrasts (in the same way as the Miserere by Allegri) with the verses which are harmonised. They require confident entries and a range of dynamics. The piece was ably conducted by seventeen year old Michael d’Avanzo, who recently received his ARCO and will be giving an organ recital also at St. George’s, Woolhope, on October 5th at 11.00 a.m. in the second of this season’s Music in Quiet Places concerts.

Organ works by Mendelssohn and Neil Ogden were also performed, and the whole concert was started and finished by the two choirs combined, very youthful and not quite so youthful, joining together in pieces by Stanford and Brahms. Despite being an amalgam of two independent choirs, the entire ensemble blended well together and gave both an opportunity to learn something from the other.

The choristers appeared by kind permission of the Sub-Dean of the Chapels Royal, the Reverend Canon Paul Wright. Thanks must go to their Director of Music, Joseph McHardy and organist of the Chapel Royal, Martyn Noble, and the Director of Music of Hereford Cathedral School, David Evans, as well as to the performers for entertaining the audience so royally on such a bright and sunny day. Thanks should also go to Bill Gunn, who organised the “royal” visit and the church and HHCT volunteers for their help on the day. 

The Church Mouse
Herefordshire Historic Churches Trust