It’s a play on words which has probably been used many times before, but Music for Awhile with Margaret Faultless gave what seemed to the Church Mouse to be some pretty perfect renditions of works by J.S. and W.F. Bach at a concert of chamber music last Friday in St. John’s Methodist Church in Hereford. The afternoon had been spent with Professor Faultless, Rachel Stroud, Anna Curzon, Hugh Mackay and Benedict Williams giving masterclasses to pupils from the Cathedral School, who then participated in the evening’s performances along with some of their own instrumental teachers including Hazel Davis, who had been coaching the students.

The fact that Margaret Faultless, co-leader and often director of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, (among many of her other positions as a leading expert on historical performance) was able to come to Hereford with her young colleagues, (all of whom were outstanding and with a string of achievements behind them already), was due to the generous sponsorship of the concert by the Cecil King Memorial Foundation. It was a wonderful opportunity for young musicians from the Cathedral School, aged from eleven years, to listen to, learn from and perform with inspiring professionals, a chance which may never be repeated.

They certainly rose to the occasion, the soloists (Michael d’Avanzo, familiar to regular attendees at MiQP concerts, Emily Semple and Dimity Shorrock), the young leader of the Orchestra Imogen Miller and the orchestral players themselves. About two thirds were girls, interestingly the same ratio as the professionals. Those playing a solo, if they felt any nerves at playing in front of such celebrated musicians, (even if they were off stage) as well as an audience, certainly disguised it well, and members of the Orchestra, playing with fierce concentration, appeared to be quite in control of what they were playing. They deserve many congratulations for their performances on the night. Sharing a stage with those more used to Westminster Abbey, the BBC Proms, Glyndebourne, the Royal Albert Hall and venues all around the world, must have been very daunting, but the inspiration and encouragement they received must have made it all worthwhile. It was certainly a wonderful concert to listen to and much-enjoyed by the audience.

Herefordshire Historic Churches Trust