Anyone who has ventured to the choir vestry at St Saviour’s Church will have seen a series of photographs showing the choir during visits to various cathedrals over the years.
It’s been going on 20 years since the choir ventured to a cathedral and it was the feeling of the Associate Director of Music, Andrew Peckham, with enthusiastic support from Glyn Môn Hughes, the Director of Music, that the time was right to think about another trip.
What neither Andrew nor Glyn realised was quite how fast this pipe dream would turn into the real thing. A recording was made of Choral Evensong on Easter Day which, by chance, turned out to be an even more stirring performance than usual and CDs were sent out to a number of cathedrals.
Within a day, Lichfield Cathedral was in touch offering the choir the chance to sing services at the first weekend in August.
The gauntlet had been thrown down and, although no battle ensued, nerves were a little on edge as the weekend drew night.
On 1 August the choir, along with a few members of the Occasional Choir who help out at special events, assembled in the Song School at Lichfield and put the final touches to the music, before going into the much larger acoustic of the cathedral itself.
What followed was a little more than 24 hours of glorious music making in one of the great, historic cathedrals of England. Evensong on Saturday included the B minor Service by Noble as well as Balfour-Gardiner’s sublime Evening Hymn .
Sunday was more of a challenge as the service took place in the larger acoustic of the Nave and included a Communion setting new to St Saviour’s – Sumsion in F – as well as Byrd’s Ave Verum Corpus. The afternoon saw the choir back in the relative safety of the choir stalls to sing Murrill’s challenging E major Service as well as Wood’s large anthem setting O Thou the Central Orb.
The organ voluntaries included Buxtehude’s G minor Prelude and Fugue, Bach’s ‘St Anne’ Fugue in E flat and Mendelssohn’s rousing Third Sonata in A major.
The choir made a considerable impact on the cathedral congregation, both clergy and people and most now cannot wait for the next visit. Several cathedrals have expressed an interest. Soon the diaries will be out and dates set for another trip.
And another picture will be looking for wallspace.