St. Peter and St. Paul Weobley hosted its own Three Choirs Festival for one night only on October 10th as part of HHCT’s Music in Quiet Places series. Church Mouse joined an audience of more than 160 to be entertained by the newly-formed Hereford Cathedral School Choral Society, the Senior Chamber Choir and Cantabile, the renowned local girls’ choir also from Hereford Cathedral School.
Girls come and girls go as they get older and leave the school, meaning that the members of the choir are continually changing, but Jo Williamson always maintains the extremely high standard of the singing. Not just known throughout Herefordshire, Cantabile has an international reputation and is the only choir from this country to be competing against choirs from all over the world in the Canta al Mar Festival in Spain in a few days time.
The audience enjoyed a varied programme both accompanied and a cappella, with some solo voices, some keyboard or organ accompaniment and some instrumental. Purcell featured with the ever-popular “Rejoice in the Lord Alway” as well as ex-King’s Singer Bob Chilcott with parts of his “A Little Jazz Mass”. S.S. Wesley provided a link with Hereford Cathedral, where he was the organist from c.1832-35; “Lead Me Lord” is a beautiful piece. Church Mouse must admit to a very soft spot for the traditional folk songs included in the programme, particularly the haunting melody of Carrickfergus, which always brings tears to a little mousie’s eyes.
The evening’s enjoyment was heightened by the wonderful welcome we received from Peter and Wendy Hereford and their team, who also provided refreshments. The atmospheric setting of the lovely C13th church with the music resonating and floating upwards above our heads, caused Mouse to reflect on all the events the church has seen in the last 700 years or so, Owain Glyndwr’s Rebellion and the English Civil War to name but two. What would Philip de Woonton, Weobley’s first vicar in this current building, have thought in 1287 if he had known that hundreds of years after him one of his successors (Philip Harvey) would come from a place which was completely unheard of (Australia) in the C13th. He probably thought the Earth was flat! The figures on top of the corbels of the nave now look down upon a newly-laid floor which cost some £60,000. That achievement was deserving of a celebration; the setting of St. Peter and St.Paul with its interesting memorials, (including a small one to Ella Mary Leather, the Herefordshire folklorist, in one of the windows), fragments of medieval paint and scissor-beam roof, showed Mouse how beautiful music performed in a beautiful space can remind us that there is life, hope and beauty away from the sadness and catastrophic events of the world.