FLORENCE 2007 – FROM AN ACS ‘GROUPIE’
The first of the choir’s concerts in
Despite the fears of Musical Director Steven and of some of
the choir, the acoustics of the church proved to be excellent. Steven and
Lydia’s piano solo, the Debussy La Cathedrale Engloutie was greeted with enthusiastic and prolonged applause, and when the choir resumed, the audience, no longer inhibited, applauded each further offering in appreciation of the different styles and genres of sacred music, from the profound majesty of Purcell’s Hear my Prayer O Lord and Byrd’s Ave Verum Corpus to the wholehearted 19th century hymn of Sebastian Wesley Thou Wilt Keep him in Perfect Peace and the pieces by Lole and Chambers. The applause at the ‘end’ of the concert was sustained and fervent and it was therefore much appreciated when Steven introduced the (carefully prepared) surprise encores. The choir then concluded the evening with Stainer’s God so Loved the World and John Rutter’s The Lord is my Shepherd, respectively excellent examples of 19th and 20th century English sacred writing. Both were rightly received with prolonged applause and afterwards compliments and congratulations on the performance, in the accents of several different nationalities, were paid by members of the enthusiastic audience.
So a very successful evening for the choir and its faithful
band of ‘groupies’ - the spouses, parents and friends of choir members. From a
personal viewpoint, though the concert was excellent overall, there were some
special moments. It was particularly magical to hear the music of two of our
greatest composers of the genre, Purcell and Byrd, floating up and outwards in
this beautiful church. The choir provided its audience with a deeply felt and
uplifting experience, responding sensitively to the nuances of Steven’s
The second concert was two days later, in the heart of the
area round the Ponte Vecchio, at the
At the beginning of the concert the choir made a splendid theatrical entrance from the crypt and took up its place on the raised and pillared altar space. The programme was almost the same as that of the previous concert and the choir again performed excellently. The acoustics showed to great advantage the beauty of some of the sublime short pieces, especially the polyphonic motets. One change in the programme was the replacement of the Purcell by O Nata Lux by Thomas Tallis - a welcome inclusion of our other great Tudor composer. The audience applauded every piece from the beginning, expressing particular enthusiasm for Lydia’s solo, and again for the two ‘encores’ by Stainer and Rutter, and expressing its delight and appreciation in its comments afterwards.