There were very good vibrations in St. Bartholomew’s Church, Much Marcle, on Wednesday evening! We were extremely fortunate that the Leeds Clothworkers’ Consort, (who are singing in Hereford Cathedral this week while the cathedral choristers are on their Easter holidays), asked if HHCT could arrange a venue for them to give a concert on their night off! Much Marcle very kindly agreed to host the event, the latest in the MiQP series, a late entry so not in the original programme of events.

Originally the Leeds University Liturgical Choir, the Clothworkers’ Consort (a snappier name, surely) led by their musical director Bryan White displayed the accomplished singing which has made them one of the finest choral ensembles in the north of England. A mere eighteen in strength, they sang unaccompanied throughout, showing their versatility with items from the C16th English composer Thomas Morley and C17th German pieces by Schutz and J.S. Bach to much better-known C20th songs by  the Proclaimers and the Beach Boys. The latter were even arranged by a former member of the Clothworkers’ Consort. The occasion was also a chance to hear pieces of music which are perhaps less well-known, including Carmen Funebre, by Samuel Wesley, the father of Samuel Sebastian Wesley, appointed organist of Hereford Cathedral in 1832. We also heard Singet dem Herrn by Hugo Distler, a C20th German composer. This blogger would love to have the breath control to hold the wonderful long, sustained notes in this piece particularly and the Bach motet of the same name, also on the programme.

The lighting from the lanterns and spotlights in this beautiful church created light and shade which was echoed in the singing and provided additional atmosphere as the shadows lengthened outside. With the newly restored tomb of Blanche Mortimer in the background, it was a very special occasion.

Thanks must go not only to the Leeds Clothworkers’ Consort for offering to sing for us but also to Mrs. Janet Chapman and her team who did such a wonderful job of preparing the church and providing tea for the singers.

Herefordshire Historic Churches Trust