On Saturday 12th October, our friends The Oriel Singers performed a beautiful programme of unaccompanied contemporary works in Pershore Abbey, to a highly appreciative audience. Their conductor Ben Sawyer tells us some more about the concert:
They took three German texts, ‘Abendlied’, ‘Morgen’ and ‘Ständchen’ (hence ‘Serenade’) and set them in three short, beautifully crafted works. Matthew was in attendance and was delighted at the result. These pieces are concise and highlight the German texts most effectively. Matthew said: ‘this was my first time setting words in German and this brought new and unexpected elements to my writing’.
If you do not know this mass, or indeed William’s music, do look him up. It is a sad story, as he was a busy working musician with a young family who became terminally ill and died in 2016 aged just 34. The album ‘Ablaze with Light’ was recorded in his memory by many of his friends and features a wonderful selection of his music. Around this mass, the choir had a chance to rekindle memories of the atmospheric concert given in the Three Choirs Festival by performing Roxanna Panufnik’s visceral and complex setting of ‘Child of Heaven’, words taken from the Rig Veda. Alongside this came a performance of another work written for the Oriel Singers, this time in memory of Michael Porter, ‘The Good Morrow’. This powerful work by Alissa Firsova was commissioned by Clare in Michael’s memory and was premiered in Malmesbury Abbey in June 2019. The other work to feature in the first half was Eric Whitacre’s ‘Sleep’. For me, this was a treat and the choir responded superbly giving a highly charged rendition of this favourite.
The second half began with a first outing for The Oriels of Jaakko Mäntyjärvi’s ‘Four Shakespeare Songs’. These pieces have bags of character and I look forward to a repeat performance of them next May as part of the Winchcombe Festival. There followed the new works by Coleridge, and the concert concluded with three lighter pieces about love and singing. - Ben Sawyer, Conductor
You can find out more information about the Oriel Singers, including their up and coming concerts here.