“I’d like to teach the world to sing”, originally an advertising jingle for Coca Cola, could perhaps be used to describe the ethos of VCM, the choral foundation which aims to engage young people in music through singing and providing inspiring musical opportunities for young people. Their programme reaches 40,000 young people annually in the UK, Europe, Asia and the U.S.A. Among their professional performers and educators are the international award-winning British a cappella vocal quintet Apollo5. One of the Trustees of the foundation is a resident of this county, Lord Lisvane, and HHCT was fortunate indeed that through a collaboration between Apollo 5 (as part of  VCM) and the Hereford Cathedral School Musical Outreach Department, the resultant concert was included as part of the MiQP series. St. Mary’s Kington, a recent recipient of a grant from HHCT to replace its lighting, was the venue for a very enjoyable evening with close on two hundred people in the audience.

If the aim of VCM is to inspire young people, it can consider that its goal was achieved in full measure last night. We were treated to the same sort of  performance as that described by the King’s Singers as “energetic and engaging”, their “stunning, beautiful sound” (Radio 2) filling the church without the aid of microphones. The personalities of all five shone through their singing and in their interaction with the audience as every piece was introduced by a member of the ensemble. With a repertoire which ranges from classical to jazz and pop, the programme included items by early composers such as Byrd, Orlando Gibbons and Monteverdi but also Schumann, Lionel Bart, Eric Whitacre and even Freddie Mercury.. There was also a traditional Russian piece with a modern arrangement and the beautiful Meguru from Africa, for which Colla Voce joined the professionals.

Colla Voce is Hereford Cathedral School’s Junior Chamber Choir, and Apollo 5 has been working with them since January. The results were for all to hear yesterday; they impressed the audience by singing without the aid of music, sometimes unaccompanied and, in one piece, even using complex rhythms and hand movements at the same time as singing. There was some confident singing with excellent diction and good entries and endings in the first half items by Dove and Faure. In the second half they sang a piece by Kodaly without formal language but which they will repeat in a few weeks in Hungarian! A string accompaniment with a solo recorder in Cradle Song by Orff showed that they are becoming versatile musicians.

HHCT is extremely grateful to Ben Griffiths, the vicar of Kington, for his welcome speech and the team of stalwart ladies led by Anne Edwards who even fed Apollo 5. Car park attendants were provided and the evening would not have been as successful without their help.

Herefordshire Historic Churches Trust