AN OLD BELIEF
Stondon Singers at St Laurence Blackmore
From the Fifteenth Century to A Child of Our Time, the Stondon Singers guided us through some of the finest sacred choral music.
The austere, rhythmically intricate Dufay, the richer sounds of Gabrieli, the eloquent harmonies of Lassus, the sublime cadences of Lotti's Crucifixus, traced the development of music to the Renaissance and beyond.
The Gabrieli was accompanied by Brentwood Brass – the final Alleluia of O Magnum Mysterium was especially effective – and they also gave us some purely instrumental interludes, including William Byrd's March for the Earl of Oxford, as well as Handel and Eleanor Rigby.
The Singers, directed by Chrisopher Tinker, jumped forward after the interval to Parry, the Songs of Farewell, including the meditation on death which gave the evening its title, two Elgar Part Songs, and finally the five Tippett Spirituals, featuring some superb step-out soloists from the choir.
I felt that the singers were perhaps more comfortable, more relaxed in the familiar harmonies of the twentieth century, but the structure of the programme gave us a valuable insight into the development of the sounds which have echoed through places of worship over six centuries.
That on some solemn shore,
Beyond the sphere of grief,
Dear friends shall meet once more.
Beyond the sphere of Time and Sin,
and Fate’s control,
Serene in changeless prime
of body and of soul.
That creed I fain would keep,
That hope I’ll ne’er forgo:
Eternal be the sleep
If not to waken so.