SING FOR THE MORNING'S JOY
Writtle Singers at All Saints Church
The title for this concert – and the first words we heard sung – is from Ursula Vaughan William's Hymn to St Cecilia, set by Herbert Howells. The hymn seemed ideally suited to the chamber choir, as was the same composer's Like As The Hart – a beautifully balanced sound.
November 22 is St Cecilia's Day – we heard the Britten/Auden Hymn here a couple of Novembers ago – and also the date of the first performance of Howells' “Take him, Earth, for cherishing”, a piece commissioned for the memorial service for John F Kennedy, assassinated exactly twelve months earlier. A dignified, deeply felt, expression of grief and loss, confidently tackled by the a cappella choir, augmented by the organist for the evening, Jonathan Dods, who gave us an agile Dialogue by Peter Hurford, as well as Howells' Master Tallis's Testament, a series of variations which grow in complexity and intensity, brilliantly performed on this modest instrument.
For the final work director Christine Gwynn chose Norman Caplin's Missa Omnium Sanctorum, a mass, lively and reverential by turns, written for All Saints' Margaret Street, with plenty of opportunity for solos and duets.
As ever, Writtle Singers excelled in celebration of the serendipitous and the lesser known, knowledgeably introduced and convincingly performed.
photograph of All Saints' St Margaret's Street by David Nicholls