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An afternoon concert

After the stress and hassle of having workmen around mending my roof for the second time of asking, plus making the additional unwelcome discovery that my washing machine had leaked all over the kitchen floor, I decided I needed to do something to cheer myself up.  I had spotted in the local paper that there was a concert being held at Malvern Priory on Saturday afternoon, and best of all it was free. So I took myself along.

It was a choral concert being given by the  Worcester Liturgical Music Course, a dozen singers who had met for the first time on Tuesday, and had spent the past four and a half days in Worcester Cathedral practising plainsong and unaccompanied choral works dating from 16th Century or so right up to very modern pieces. For what was effectively little more than a “scratch” choir they did very well, and the few dozen people in the audience got a real treat.

My favourite piece, and the reason that I decided to go, was the Allegri Miserere. Christopher first introduced me to it – he always said that it would be one of his “Desert Island Discs” – though he would have insisted that the top C (which is such a feature of the piece) was “done properly” – i.e. sung by a choir-boy treble rather than a woman soprano. In that respect he wouldn’t have approved of this performance. But nonetheless it was a very beautiful piece, sung very competently, and one which always makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. The surroundings of the lovely medieval church of Malvern Priory, which is almost like a small cathedral, were particularly fitting, and the choir split themselves into three groups standing in different parts of the church, which made it easier to follow the different voices.

My least favourite composition was the most modern. It was part of the African Sanctus by David Fanshawe which mixed a rather beautiful and traditional-sounding Kyrie with a simultaneous playback of a recording of a1960’s Cairo muezzin warbling the Allahu Akhbar call to prayer. I think the two parts were meant to act as a counterpart and complement to each other, but I found they just competed so that I couldn’t concentrate on either. So that particular piece did absolutely nothing for me at all, but I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the programme.

It did also bring home to me once again how small a town Malvern is. I’ve commented before that it’s hard to go into town without bumping into someone I know. This time, sitting in the nave a few rows behind me was my parents’ now-retired solicitor, who was at the same ante-natal classes as my mother some forty-odd years ago, and has effectively known me since before I was even born!