The main item in our Christmas offering this year was a performance of Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle, a name that does not refer to nature of the work but to the form of the mass. Rossini, by calling it 'little', was alluding to its original scoring for just 12 singers plus two pianos and harmonium.
Much of the choral writing was very demanding but the choir rose to the occasion and delivered a spirited performance, ably supported by Jon French, piano, and Rowena Gibbons, harmonium. The audience had an opportunity to sing some Christmas carols with the choir and to enjoy some seasonal readings by society members.
Mostly Mozart Concert, 11 May 2019
For the 2019 Spring Concert, we returned to the picturesque church of St Mary's in Haddenham where we had performed the previous year in a joint concert with the Oxford Welsh Male Voice Choir. After some short choral setting by Elgar, Fauré and Mozart, the first half concluded with a sparkling performance of Mozart's Clarinet Concerto in A from Steve Morris with the Thame Sinfonia conducted by Helen Swift.
Steve took the stage again in the second half, kindly playing one of the basset horn orchestral parts in Mozart's Requiem. The Thame Sinfonia again accompanied us and we were joined by soprano Claire Turner, mezzo-soprano Rebecca Anstey, tenor Christoper Lemmings and bass Edward Price. It wasn't easy fitting a 60-strong choir and its staging, four soloists and a 28-piece orchestra into the chancel but we did it and the audience were treated to a performance that was a tribute to the work MD Helen had done to develop the choir's confidence, strength and ability.
In the Mood, 22 June 2019
For our final concert of the season, Helen introduced us to something we had not tried before, at least not in concert - JAZZ! Featuring evergreen songs from composers like Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, the Gershwins and Rogers & Hart from the Great American Songbook, the choir sang to an accompaniment by jazz quartet - keyboard, clarinet (Steve Morris making a welcome return), bass and percussion - and Helen, in a rare solo performance with the choir, sang Summertime and It ain't necessarily so from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.
Choir member John gave entertaining renditions of Frankie and Johnny and Please don't talk about me when I'm gone, Judith sang A nightingale sang in Berkley Square, while Steve displayed his skill with the clarinet in a number of solo pieces including Gerchwin's Walking the dog and a setting of Pagannini's Caprice. A particular highlight in the first half was a virtuoso performance of the Rhapsody in Blue in its complete version for solo piano by Jon French. The choir and audience together closed the concert by singing Porter's Let's do it.