Clusters of choirs gathered on 25 October 2020 (delayed from the usual mid-August date until then by C-19) at The Catholic Pro-Cathedral (St Mary’s) on Manchester Street Christchurch at 3.00pm to present to audience and one another their chosen works for the Annual Choral Festival.
The event opened traditionally with the Church Choirs Cluster comprising choristers from Christ Church Cathedral, Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament (CBS), St Michael’s, RSCM Choristers, choir members from Catholic parishes and representative singers from numerous faiths, etc.
Church Choirs Cluster in the Gallery of the Catholic Pro-Cathedral
Mozart’s Ave Verum with Ken Joplin conducting and Max Toth, organ opened the avalanche of inspiration that ensued from all the clusters. Rutter’s “A Gaelic Blessing” followed led by Paul Ellis and Alex Goodwin organ; likewise J V Peters’ Ye Watchers and Ye Holy. This last motet recognised the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth, his genius as a musician and the contributions he made to the Christchurch music scene during his sadly relatively short life.
The Community Choirs Cluster, with Henry Nicholson conducting and William (Bill) Grubb accompanying, presented Jean & David Perry’s Jubilate, Sing Joyfully Simon’s (arr. Emerson) The Sound of Silence and A. Lloyd Weber’s Any Dream Will Do (from Joesph and The Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat).
Youth Choirs cluster took the stage. Comprising Christ Church Cathedral Treble Choristers, & Christchurch Boys’ Choir they were led by conductors Alex Goodwin (substituting for Nicholas Sutcliffe on this occasion) with Richard Oswin piano accompanying. They rendered beautifully In Paradisum, Po Kare kare Ana (arr. Andrew Withington) and under Dr John Linker’s baton with Alex Goodwin piano, Pie Jesu (Faure). Medbury School Treble Oscar Stove with Mrs Chrissie Badger at the piano, enthralled with Dvorak’s Kyrie.
Enter the Concert Choirs comprising Jazz Choir, Cecilians, Schola Cantorum, Jubilate Singers, CBS Choir, City Choir and others. Libera Me (Faure), Dr. John Linker/Max Toth, The Nightingale (Mendelssohn) under Felicity O’Brien’s leadership a cappella, and Sister Sadie (Henry Nicholson violin obligato), Max Toth and Mel. Oliver accompanying with Mary Ruston conducting.
The Combined Finale was a treasured moment. All the choristers under the baton of Don Whelan/Max Toth organ/Alex Goodwin piano, performed the Hallelujah Chorus from Beethoven’s Christ on the Mount of Olives oratorio.
It was an exhillerating conclusion to an overwhelming and joyous event with every one looking forward to the 15 August 2021 Festival at the Pro-Cathedral.