The School Chamber Choir made their annual visit to London on Thursday 23 February to perform by invitation in the Brandenburg Choral Festival. This is always a highlight of the choral calendar at Oakham, but it was very clear to all in attendance that the choir’s performance stood out as one of their very best performances.
Director of Music, Peter Davis, had planned a largely devotional programme of choral works as the concert fell at the very start of Lent, just a day after Ash Wednesday. Entitled ‘Hear my prayer’, the concert opened with this eponymous and famous choral work by Mendelssohn, featuring the stunning solo soprano singing of Form 5 music scholar, Evie.
Philip Moore’s deeply moving settings of Three Prayers of Dietrich Bonhoeffer followed, opening with the compelling solo singing of Form 6 music scholar, Sofia. This challenging set of works are a real test of the choir with over 15 minutes of unaccompanied singing, and they held the audience throughout.
The choir was joined by Form 6 music scholar & cellist, Ethan, for a rare repeat performance of Arensky’s Three Quartets, last heard at the Autumn Concert. The sounds of the choir and solo ‘cello interwove wonderfully in the extraordinary acoustic of St Stephen Walbrook Church. The church’s resonance was also most welcome in two contemporary choral works – Gjeilo’s famous setting of Ubi caritas, and Oakham’s recent commission from Ēriks Ešenvalds, Anima Christi – in which the choir’s love of these pieces was clearly evident.
The concert concluded with Parry’s barn-storming anthem, Hear my words, ye people, in which choir and organ combined exultantly. Congratulations to Form 7 music scholar, Daniel, for his superb solo singing, helping the concert to end so strongly, resulting in tumultuous applause from the supportive audience which included many past members of the choir. As always, our musicians were fabulous ambassadors for music at Oakham School.
If you missed the choir’s singing, you can hear an audio recording of the concert online now by clicking here.