Fortunately, Church Mouse, full of energy after returning from holiday, arrived early for the latest MiQP concert in Bodenham; many attendees arrived in torrential rain after thunder and dark clouds replaced earlier sunshine. It was a close-run thing on the return journey whether or not everyone would have to swim. Sadly, St. Michael’s and All Angels has been badly damaged by water ingress in the past (see tidemark in the photo below).

Indeed it is not unknown for the intrepid parishioners to attend services in wellies. The church’s beautiful situation in close proximity to the River Lugg (burbling innocently only a few yards away from the churchyard) is primarily responsible for this though it is hard to imagine that the early mediaeval builders could have anticipated that there would be flooding in the future.

MiQP was given a very warm welcome to the church; floral arrangements for the Coronation were still in place and lent a festive air and tea, coffee and snacks were provided by ladies from Bodenham (plus the Trust’s usual Tanner’s wine) for the audience and much enjoyed. The Trust is delighted and very thankful  to receive  all the profits from this concert in gratitude for the support HHCT has previously provided to St. Michael’s.

The concert was actually entitled Abendlied, or Evening Song, with singers and instrumentalists from Hereford Cathedral School performing to their usual high standards. Colla Voce, (the singers aged about 11 -13) joined the Senior Chamber Choir and the much-renowned Cantabile, ably directed and supported by Ducan Barlow, Director of Music, Andrew Semple, Jo Williamson and others.

There were many highlights during the course of the evening. Mouse was especially captivated by the Early Music performed by the Gilbert Consort directed by David Hatcher, a musician of international repute and experience and a founder member of The Linarol Consort of Viols,  the UK’s only consort specialising in the viol’s earliest repertoire. Handily for us all, he lives in Leominster. We heard various pieces, both sung and played, on recorders, viol, harpsichord and lute with some wonderfully elaborate ornamentation and deft fingering on the treble recorder particularly. It was easy to imagine oneself in some  Italian palazzo listening to madrigals and watching courtly dances.

We were also fortunate to hear what were probably the world premieres of three pieces by thus far unknown (not for long, surely!) composers who impressed us greatly by their talent. A stunning Allegro Appassionato movement from a Violin and Piano Sonata in A minor looked to be a challenging piece to play, evocative of some exotic Hungarian violinist playing for swirling gypsy dancers. Wordsworth’s poem I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud set as a song for solo soprano provided a tranquil contrast and a choral Nunc Dimittis found its perfect setting in this venerable old church. Splendidly, these wonderful pieces were all composed by A Level students at the Cathedral School.

Youth was further represented as Abendlied, after which the evening was entitled, was written by a teenage Rheinberger aged 15, and Faure’s Cantique de Jean Racine was composed when he was 19. Variety was catered for by the different styles of music, from the absolutely up to-date  C21st thanks to our local talent,  to C16th and C17th items  and to folk music, such as the hauntingly beautiful melodies of A Bunch of Thyme and Carrickfergus, sung by Cantabile.

Mouse was struck by the links to Hereford and the county; Wordsworth made many visits to the area to see family and was inspired to write his poem We are Seven by a small girl from Goodrich. The Londonderry Air is a very well-known tune, but how many people know that the words to Danny Boy were written by Frederick E. Weatherly, who attended Hereford Cathedral School from 1859-1867? And finally, Bob Chilcott, who arranged the Londonderry Air, was a member of the King’s Singers; currently their line-up includes an ex-chorister from Hereford Cathedral and a Cathedral School old boy, Patrick Dunachie.

Thank you to all who were in any way involved. As ever, it was a highly enjoyable evening.

Church Mouse

Herefordshire Historic Churches Trust