I should start this post by being totally honest with my readers and say that Wednesday’s concert which I will talk about below was in fact the second concert of the festival week. The first one was given by the reknowned baroque cellist, Susan Shepherd on Monday but unfortunately I was too busy elsewhere to be able to attend. As it turned out the chapel was packed on Monday evening so my not being there was possibly a good thing as it allowed others to enjoy what I am reliably informed was a fantastic concert.
Technically, however, the Festival week, in a break with tradition of previous years, started with a service of Matins on Sunday 22 July to celebrate the feast of Mary Magdalen. Usually this choral service (which previously has taken the form of evensong) is celebrated at the end of the week. This reversal was implemented by the new Chaplain David Prothero who joins the chapel from St Mary’s Bathwick. I haven’t yet had much opportunity to see the new chaplain in action but it would appear he is not a fan of concerts, having left both Monday’s and Wednesdays concerts during the first half which was a little odd. I’m sure, however, he had good reason for doing so.
So, onto the concert on Wednesday given by Charlotte Newstead (soprano) and John Marsh (piano). These two fantastic musicians are not newcomers to the chapel, but in fact return by popular demand. As such, my expectation was high having enjoyed their previous concert in the chapel a couple of years ago. And, once again I was not disappointed. For me, the most exciting thing about this concert was the varied programme. Without listing the entire programme, some of the highlights for me included:
Under the Greenwood Tree – Howells
Silent Noon – Vaughan Williams
Le premier jour de mai – Gounod
Mai – Faure
Widmung – Schumann
Zueignung – R Strauss
We’ll gather Lilacs – Novello
All of this was accompanied by a pleasant glass of chilled white wine in the chapel garden both during the interval and at the end of the concert. What more could you ask for?