On Friday 25 September, Romsey Abbey Choir and the Romsey Area Youth Jazz Orchestra (RAYJO) gave a concert at the bandstand in the Memorial Park. The event raised funds for George’s Trust, founded in memory of George O’Brien who had belonged to both groups before his untimely death last October.
The concert began in pleasant late evening sunshine at 6 pm with Adrian Batten’s ebullient Tudor anthem, O sing joyfully , conducted by Robert Fielding. The choir’s programme gave a flavour of the breadth of its repertoire, taking in part of a mass dating from the Fourteenth Century, motets by Anton Bruckner, César Franck and Maurice Duruflé, and larger anthems by Edgar Bainton and John Ireland.
Three choristers sang solo numbers, accompanied sensitively by James Eaton. These ranged from Where e’er you walk by Handel and the folk song In the Sally Garden , sung by Julian Orchard, to modern numbers sung by Joseph Yandell and Simon Grant, who later took the lead together in the haunting Pie Jesu from Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Requiem. During the evening, George’s friend Tom Poole also sang two American pop ballads.
RAYJO, under their new leader Bill Askew, performed several numbers by masters of Big Band Jazz including Benny Goodman. Members of the group came forward to perform solos during the set, which concluded with George’s favourite piece, Jeff Steinberg’s Gospel John.
Darkness had well and truly in time for the grand finale: a lusty rendition of Handel’s coronation anthem Zadok the Priest and Parry’s Jerusalem, accompanied by fireworks. It was certainly a novel experience for the choirboys to be singing as rockets went off behind them – and a fitting tribute to the memory of George, who would have been 18 the day before.