August 2014

A Letter from your Lay Reader

Dear Friends,

I am really looking forward to my summer holiday this year, not just because I need a bit of a rest, but also because I will be doing something a bit different this summer. As some of you will know, my son, Simon, is a tenor Lay Clerk at Hereford Cathedral, and in that role, he is required to take part in the “Three Choirs’ Festival”. The “Three Choirs’ Festival” is a music festival shared by the choirs of Hereford Cathedral, Gloucester Cathedral and Worcester each year. It originated in the early 1700s and still takes place annually rotating between each of the three Cathedrals. While still principally involving the three Cathedral choirs, there is now a Festival Chorus, an amateur choir which joins the Cathedral Choirs for larger choral works, and there are usually a number of professional musicians and ensembles who take part. This years’ programme includes a concert by the Kings Singers.

This year the Festival takes place in Worcester, but Rachel and I have decided to go down to Hereford, where we know an excellent B&B (owned and run by a member of the Festival Chorus and her husband) and travel between Hereford and Worcester for a few concerts and Services.

The first concert we have booked tickets for is Bach’s B minor Mass, which is probably one of my favourite choral works. It is being performed by the Lay Clerks from the three cathedrals, with a team of professional soloists, the Academy of Ancient music and conducted by Peter Nardone, the Director of Music at Worcester. Having sung in the B minor Mass a number of times, I will have to try very hard not to “hum along” to certain bits!

Choral Evensong is sung by the Lay Clerks most evenings during the Festival week, but on the Wednesday it will be broadcast live on Radio 3. We will probably have to get there early to get a decent seat, but with music from English composers, including Byrd, Howells and Mathias, it should be wonderful. Listen in to it on Radio 3 (either on the Wednesday live or the following Sunday’s recorded broadcast).

Another concert I am looking forward to is a performance of “The Apostles” an oratorio by Elgar, not very often performed these days. The last time it was performed in Southampton was probably in 1987 with the Southampton Philharmonic Society – yes, I was in it!! It is one of Elgar’s greatest choral works, based largely on biblical text, and covering the later part of Christ’s ministry and the calling of the Apostles. At the Three Choirs Festival, The Apostles will be performed by the Lay Clerks and the Festival Chorus under the baton of Andrew Partington, Director of Music at Gloucester. There will be some very well-known soloists (soprano, alto, tenor and three basses) all accompanied by the Philharmonia Orchestra.

We will probably attend a couple more of the Choral Evensongs, but sadly we will miss a performance of Britten’s War Requiem and the Saturday Evensong, since we have to be back in Southampton for Sunday morning, yes, you’ve guessed it, I’m taking the Family Service and preaching at Freemantle!!

We have not yet decided what we will be doing for the second week of our holiday, something more spontaneous, perhaps.

I hope all of you who have holidays planned for this month, will have a most relaxing and enjoyable time, and hope to see you all back in church in September!!

with every blessing

Malcolm Harper