On a balmy late June evening, the glorious sound of beautiful choral voices rang out across the green Herefordshire fields from the magnificent medieval church of St Mary the Virgin, Much Cowarne.

What could this astonishing sound be?  It was Much Cowarne’s very own ‘Three Choirs Concert’ as performed by Cantabile, Cantabilina and Hereford Cathedral School Chamber Choir.

The audience was welcomed by a talented quartet of young musicians and then the Chamber Choir began with the soft and gentle harmonies of Beati quorum via andDurufle’s Kyrie, from theRequiem  …..  the audience was immediately transported back in time appreciating the workers who with each brick and timber built this historical place of worship and reflection.  The contemplative mood was reflected in the haunting and melancholic Dido’s lament from Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas, with harpsichord accompaniment and sung beautifully by soprano Isabel D’Avanzo.

The audience was treated to a change in tempo and mood with the award winning Cantabile girls choir, under the inspirational direction of Jo Williamson, who sang a trio of uplifting songs Grow, I Lift my Eyes and Fix You

The mood was set for an extremely confident and poised performance by Seyi Adeyemo of Mozart’s Porgi amor.

Just to remind us that Much Cowarne is situated in the rolling green hills and fields of Herefordshire, the training choir of Cantabile sang three English rural idyll songs Shepherd, ShepherdWater of TyneThe Lord is My Shepherd – their pure young voices ringing out clear and pure. 

David Evans, proud Welshman and inspiring musical director of MIQP and HCS, took central stage to introduce Dylan Thomas’ Eli Jenkins Prayer (Under Milkwood) set to music by Mumbles’ composer Daniel Jones.  This amusing chant entertained the crowd just in time for interval refreshments and chatter.

The audience resumed their seats in high spirits and anticipation …..

They were not to be disappointed.  Cantabile performed with soul-searching Carrickfergus, the gentle and soulful WalyWaly and ended with the Spanish themed Danza sungto tambourine accompaniment.   Another highly talented soprano Maia Carter treated the audience to an awe-inspiring Poor Wandering One by Gilbert & Sullivan. 

Then we were back to an English and Irish Pastoral setting with the Chamber choir of mixed voices, starting with the boys singing ‘Greensleaves’ and the combined voices ended with the heart rendering version by Bob Chilcott of O Danny Boy

Once again, the mood was changed with the exquisite voices of Seyi Adeyemo and Isabel D’Avanzo transporting the audience to rural Cevennes, France with Lakme’s haunting Flower Duet.

Sadly, the evening had to come to an end and in reverence to our historic surroundings and the momentous occasion of David Evans’ last concert as Director of Music for HCS, all three choirs combined to sing the majestic and regal Parry’s I Was Glad

The old timbers and rafters of this special place really did quake and tremble in awe and delight at the wonderful performances, which was echoed in the audience’s huge appreciation of the amazing musical talent expressed by these gifted young musicians, inspired and nurtured by David Evans, to whom Herefordshire owes and enormous debt of gratitude and admiration.

Herefordshire Historic Churches Trust