Tuesday, 20 November 2018

French flavour to choral society&rsquos summer outing

HENLEY Choral Society is to pay “hommage” to some of the finest French composers of the

HENLEY Choral Society is to pay “hommage” to some of the finest French composers of the 20th century at its summer concert later this month.

The music of Maurice Duruflé, Gabriel Fauré and Louis Vierne will be front and centre at the Christ Church Centre in Reading Road on Saturday, June 18.

Following the recent departure of musical director Ben Goodson, the choir will be led by Oxford-based guest conductor Dr Tom Edwards.

The choral society is also delighted to welcome back former conductor Will Dawes as a baritone soloist.

Mr Dawes was Ben Goodson&rsquos predecessor and spent seven years in the role from 2006 to 2013. He is currently the conductor of Bath Choral Society and director of music at the church of St Mary Magdalen, Oxford.

For his part, Dr Edwards is the organist and director of music at St Barnabas Church, Oxford. He studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and graduated as a master of music from the University of Edinburgh, having been director of music and head of academic music at Lucton School in Herefordshire.

Looking ahead to the concert, which starts at 7.30pm, choral society spokeswoman Catharina Reynolds said: “The choir is really enjoying singing the summer repertoire with Tom, who provides inexhaustible encouragement and support.

“The centrepiece of this performance will be the radiant music of Duruflé, consisting of the large scale Requiem and his Quatre Motets.

“Duruflé&rsquos Requiem is based on Gregorian themes and this intimate performance will use the organ-only score to deliver the peaceful reverence of this haunting French masterpiece.

“The choir will be joined by the highly acclaimed mezzo-soprano Judy Brown and of course baritone Will Dawes. Duruflé&rsquos Quatre Motets are warm, gentle and reflective and will see the choir singing a cappella, emphasising the purity of the score.

“Duruflé&rsquos friend and mentor Louis Vierne originally wrote Messe solennelle for two organs, which was typical of such works in the early 1900s. However, in this more intimate setting, extracts from the work will be accompanied by a single instrument in the capable hands of organist Richard Moore.

“A night of 20th century French composers wouldn&rsquot be complete without Fauré, and will feature his smaller work, Cantique de Jean Racine. Written when he was 19 years old, he set Racine&rsquos text to music and its beautiful interpretation established the tone for his well-known Requiem.”

Choral society chair Susan Edwards added: “I am thrilled with this beautiful French-themed programme we have lined up for our concert. The pieces are sublime and perfect for summer. The choir is looking forward to being reunited with former conductor Will Dawes, who will sing baritone solo with the choir he led for seven years.”

In recognition of the theme, a selection of delicious French wines will be served during the interval.

Tickets for the concert are priced £16 for adults and £5 for under-18s. To book, call Jan French on (01491) 572795, call in to Gorvett & Stone at 28 Duke Street, Henley, or visit www.henleychoralsociety.org.uk

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