Torrential rain for most of the day was not enough to deter the enthusiastic 150 participants arriving for the third Come and Sing day held at St Mary & St Giles to raise funds for the restoration of the Willis Pipe Organ. The church by 9.30 was warm, crowded, busy, noisy and full. Singers were registering for the day and collecting their scores, while coffee or tea was available for all who wanted it. After a few words of introduction and welcome from Jane Wolfson, James Wharton, our conductor, discovered through a show of hands that many of us had sung Fauré’s Requiem on at least one occasion before - he seemed encouraged by this! Although the Requiem was not composed in memory of a specific person, and Fauré himself is thought not to have had a particular faith, James convinced us that in this composition he must have received Divine Inspiration.
We started on our first session: learning (or revising) the Introit and Kyrie, followed by the Agnus Dei. James did not let us off lightly. Our pronunciation of the Latin text was corrected, we were criticised when we took a breath at an inappropriate place, and we had to watch James’s hands at all times - not easy when some of us were trying also to cope with unfamiliar words. However, the day was very well structured with frequent breaks for refreshments, including an amazing array of very tempting cakes. Then it was back to learn the In Paradisum and the Offertorium and, in the afternoon, the Sanctus and Libera Me. In the final run-through we heard the two baritone soloists from the Chorus and the soprano, Claire Turner, who sang the beautiful Pie Jesu.
Finally, we watched, rather nervously, as members of our audience began to arrive ready for our performance at 4.30, although James had given us so much encouragement that we were definitely looking forward to it. I am sure that everyone thoroughly enjoyed the day and I hope that James was pleased with the performance. I should like to express particular thanks to James, for his preparation, and his knowledgeable expertise (and his entertaining asides). Grateful thanks, too, to Ed Tomlinson, our accompanist on the piano, and also to our soloists, as well as to the very many helpers. Of course, the day would not have been possible without the leadership of the members of the Organ Group and so I thank them for all their planning and brilliant organisation.
I’m already looking forward to next year’s Come and Sing.
Words by Tricia Brassington, photos by John Page and Ray Rowlson
This event raised £2,014 for the organ project.
More photos can be seen at https://www.flickr.com/photos/78058413@N06/albums/72157660662361050