WOMEN OF NOTE
Writtle Singers at All Saints' Church
Celebrating 100 years of the Women's Institute, this concert combined music by women composers [and others] with readings charting the history of the movement and celebrating some notable local ladies.
Bessie Blount, Beryl Platt and Margaret Anstee were joined by Writtle-born soprano April Cantelo and antipodean Dame Nellie Melba, who made radio history on “Two Emma Toc Writtle”.
Fanny Mendelssohn, sister of the more feted Felix, began the programme with two songs; Lili Boulanger's Soir sur la Plaine was followed by two charming piano duets by Cécile Chaminade, played by the Singers' director Christine Gwynn and their accompanist Caroline Finlay.
Four living composers were represented – Judith Weir's Love Bade Me Welcome, a lovely Upon Your Heart from Canadian Eleanor Daley, two pieces by choral conductor Janette Ruocco: a beautifully delicate Psalm 23 and a Shakespeare setting, with solos [for Puck and Oberon ?]. Ruocco joined us in the audience, as did Cecilia McDowell whose moving motet of Remembrance, Ave Maris Stella, originally commissioned by Portsmouth Grammar School, closed the first half.
A stirring Jerusalem, a cheeky Jericho and a political anthem set to Men of Harlech. To finish, two songs about women – enjoyable arrangements of Miss Otis and The Girl from Ipanema.
Lovely settings, lovingly performed, with Writtle's usual attention to detail both in interpretation and in programming: a worthy tribute to the WI, five of whose members were on hand to read the extracts.