A packed St Mary’s Church was treated to a choral feast on Saturday 10th March. Nearly 100 voices of the Stowmarket Chorale were accompanied by their own symphony orchestra, all under the baton of Leslie Olive. I had bought tickets late and was right at the back, as you can see from this not very good photo.
Charles Parry’s coronation anthem, I Was Glad, opened the evening, and immediately showed the power of this obviously accomplished choir. When I was a student at The Royal College of Music the late HM The Queen Mother was College President. Once a year she would visit and this piece was always performed: she said it reminded her of her husband's coronation. The other connection for me is that Sir C.H.Parry (who also wrote Jerusalem) taught Walford Davies (composer of the RAF March, inter alia) who taught my own organ professor at the College.
Richard Strauss’ moving Four Last Songs followed, sung by Daniela Bechly. Her powerful soprano voice was more than adequate for this large building. I last heard this music live way back in 1970, so it was a real treat for me.
Daniela continued to enthral in Verdi’s Requiem, along with mezzo Emily Bauer Jones, tenor Andrew Morris and Steven Gallop, bass. Once again the musicians filled the church with sound, particularly when the four “off-stage” trumpets at the back of the building joined in the Tuba Mirum, and in the repeated and familiar Dies Irae.
Inevitably, though, it was the solo singers who stole the show, with their excellent and sometimes sublime interpretations of this masterpiece. The “tingle factor” was certainly in evidence, not least in the final Libera me, extracts of which were sung at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales. The audience stamped their feet with approval.
Come to Bury more often, Stowmarket Chorale & co!