August 17, 2021

How lovely are thy Singers Fair

Hundreds of choristers from Christchurch’s iconic choirs shared their vocal talents at the Catholic Pro-Cathedral Manchester Street, 3.00pm Sunday 15 August for the 2021 Choral Festival organised annually by indefatigable Don Whelan and choir leaders. Each entity was allocated a block of time to present works of their own choice. The climax of the event took place when every participating singer gathered together to sing for the full house audience the finale, “How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings” a chorus from A German Requiem by Johannes Brahms.

Ken Joblin conducting the opening items featuring Christchurch Church’s combined choirs gathered in the
Cathedral’s Choir Loft with Paul Ellis, President of the Royal School of Church Music seated at the organ.
Their selections featured the Plainsong singing of Salve Regina, Arcadelt’s Ave Maria and Stanford’s
St Patrick’s Breastplate, arranged so the audience could join in singing the last verse.
Singing the evergreen Moon River and then the thoughtful You Raise Me Up are members representing the Choirs of the Christchurch Community. Henry Nicholson leads them with Bill Grubb accompanying.
The singers are young and so too the conductors sharing the podium. Nicholas Ryan led the Blackbird, Robert Gaudin For the Beauty of the Earth and Beautiful City was conducted by
James-Paul Mountstevens. Renowned Richard Oswin accompanied on the piano.
Wonderfully combining are representative choristers from Christchurch’s Concert Stages together with
Jazzamatazz and members from Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament (CBS). Sharing the rostrum are
Mary Ruston (Sister Moon, with a violin obligato played by Henry Nicholson, and Take The A Train, both arranged by Mary – Mel Oliver accompanied together with a guitarist and drummer). For many, Plainsong was an ear-opening experience and in this bracket, Ken Joblin led other Plainsong items, Assumpta Est & Ave Maria.
Brahms’ How lovely Are Thy Dwellings was a fitting finale for this feast of music. Pictured are the singers from the participating choirs conducted by Maestro Don Whelan and seated at the organ console in the choir loft Paul Ellis accompanied.
Paul Ellis at the organ for the Finale

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