Saturday, 4th January, 2020
Little did I think I was going to be transported to Russia when I entered St. Thomas’ Church, Goring, on the afternoon of Saturday 4th January. However, that is exactly what happened! I attended a concert given by the Goring Chamber Choir, conducted by their Musical Director, Frances Brewitt-Taylor, and accompanied on the organ by Steve Bowey.
The theme of the concert was a Russian Orthodox Christmas. In her introduction Frances explained that Orthodox music is always sung unaccompanied, has a wide dynamic range, and requires the singers to control very long phrases in one breath. Two pieces sung in Russian ‘Rod out of Jesse’s root’ by Georgiy Izvekov and ‘Thy nativity’ by Georgiy Sviridov, were magnificent. Because one could not understand the words, it forced one to concentrate solely on the sound of the music and I was quite carried away to Russia. The sound was truly authentic and filled the church with glory.
The whole programme had been exquisitely arranged by Frances with four sets of carols sung by the choir, interspersed by a traditional English carol sung by the audience. The diversity of music and the balance of the choice of carols were perfect. The standard of the choir improves each time I hear it and the rendition of all the carols at this concert was exemplary. The choir sang with one voice and at times one felt the roof would lift with the fullness and beauty of the sound.
Individual contributions of note were the playing of the flute by Christine Richardson in the traditional French carol, Shepherd, shake off your drowsy sleep, and solo singing by Cliff Thorne in the traditional The boar’s head carol. The playing of the organ by Steve Bowey especially during the French carol, Noe, noe, was noteworthy and enjoyable.
During the proceedings, there was an appeal for donations to the Motor Neurone Disease Association. A previous member of the Goring Chamber Choir, John Burton, had been diagnosed with MND in March 2018 and now, sadly, is confined to a wheelchair and can no longer sing. John was present at the concert and his partner read out a speech by John, explaining how much the MNDA had helped him and is continuing to support him. I am pleased to report that £1,000 was collected at the end of the concert for the MNDA.
If you have not yet heard Goring’s wonderful Chamber Choir in action, then there is an opportunity next month when they will sing Durufle’s Requiem at Douai Abbey on Saturday 15 February at 7.30 p.m.