Jeffrey Williams reviews performance of Fauré Requiem
Some 80 singers from all corners of the Winchester Diocese and beyond responded to a come and sing invitation from the Winchester branch of the Royal School of Church Music: perform Faure’s Requiem in the magnificent surroundings of Romsey’s Norman Abbey. It was particularly heartening to see a number of young singers attending the event.
For two hours in the afternoon the singers, who came from many different choirs, both large and small, were rehearsed and coached by Jeffrey Williams, formerly Organist and Master of the Choristers at the abbey, in order to bring the piece together, ready for public performance in the evening. The response was excellent and from the outset the determination and willingness from all the singers to achieve this goal was very evident. By the end of the afternoon, it was hard to believe that the group had been singing together for barely two hours.
The organ accompaniment was in the very capable hands of Tim Rogerson, recently retired as the abbey’s Assistant Organist, who explored the exquisite tonal qualities of the abbey organ to the full, sensitively accompanying the singers and bringing a real French organ sound to Faure’s melodic and harmonic palette.
The soloists for the occasion were drawn from Romsey Abbey. Dick Hewett, a bass in the Abbey Choir showed expressive control in both his solos, while the pure, crystal tones of Jenna Williams, a former Head Chorister in the Abbey Girl’s Choir, were ideally suited to the beautiful melodic line of the famous Pie Jesu.
The evening performance, given in front of an appreciative audience, was introduced by the Reverend Gary Philbrick, Chairman of the Winchester RSCM Committee. He explained that, in view of the recent tragic events in Pakistan, it was fitting that the performance should be dedicated to the memory of all those who had lost their lives in the tragedy.