Church Mouse was released from parish duties on Thursday July 13th and allowed to
travel to the gardens of atmospheric Treago Castle to set up a picnic and listen to the
wonderful WildArts entertaining upwards of two hundred people with an Opera evening
in aid of HHCT and Grade 1 Listed St. Weonards Church. Student cellist Rhys
Nicholson, who has performed previously for HHCT on a singularly stormy evening at
Eastnor Castle, serenaded picnic-goers first with Bach’s G Major Cello Suite and one of
his own compositions, a haunting melody which was well-received by the audience.
Although there was rain the previous day and dreadful downpours and wind the
following day, the actual occasion was blessed with fine weather and people were able
to spread their rugs over the lawns, eat and drink without fear of a drenching. Likewise,
the performers enjoyed one of the few dry evenings they had experienced on the tour
so far this year! They did comment on how well the evening had been organised,
obviously including the weather!
Although all the items were from different works with different composers, WildArts sang
in English and “sewed” a story together linking the pieces in a clever and frequently
amusing way. These were musicians of the first calibre, having sung with the likes of
English National Opera, English Touring Opera, Welsh National Opera, at Garsington
and Glyndebourne. The ensemble, too, included artists who perform with the Royal
Philharmonic Orchestra, LSO, Academy of Ancient Music and Gabrieli Consort. Orlando
Jopling, the conductor and cellist, played his cello for HHCT as part of his Cello
Pilgrimage at Canon Pyon a few years ago, and is the Founder and Artistic Director of
WildArts. His many and varied achievements include conducting and working at the
Royal Opera House, Royal Ballet and English Chamber Orchestra, co-founding an
opera company and working as Artistic Director of the Roman River Festival in Essex.
Herefordshire is fortunate, indeed, that WildArts included the county in its summer tour,
testified by the number of appreciative and congratulatory emails and feedback received
by the organisers.
There were many people who needed to be thanked for their part in the organisation of
the event, sponsors and patrons, of course, but primarily the owners of Treago Castle,
Mr. and Mrs. Stephen and Alex Herbert, and Sir Richard and Lady Mynors, the previous
owners, whose huge enthusiasm, support and sheer hard work made the whole event
It is hoped that WildArts will return next year to perform an opera in full, probably Cosi