The Night is Dark Autumn Concert 21st October 2017

On Saturday a loyal band of music-lovers struggled through gales, rain and flood to reach Westholme School. They had come to hear BMS perform an exciting programme of music by living composers, though at one point it looked as though the evening might be cancelled – there were deep floods in Meins Road – and there was a danger that those who made it through might be marooned for the night!

Nevertheless the concert, conducted with his usual energy by Tom Newall and ably accompanied throughout by Joy Fielding, went ahead, and after singing John Rutter’s Look at the World, the choir plunged into Bob Chilcott’s A Little Jazz Mass which they performed with an infectious enthusiasm, more than one singer being unable to prevent themselves swinging with the music. No wonder. The beat was ably provided by Trish Ferrain on keyboard and Eden Longson on drums, while Joy laid down the groove on the piano.

More jazz followed with a set played by Steve Berry on bass and his young protégé Cubby Howard giving an astonishing performance of jazz cello. A young man who is certain to go far. He certainly won over the audience – at least one listener who admitted not really liking jazz was very impressed with this duo.

The first half of the concert concluded with a brief reminder of The Vicar of Dibley, evoked by the choir’s rendering of Howard Goodall’s Psalm 23.

After the interval the choir sang Rutter’s For the Beauty of The Earth and the evening finished with Goodall’s Requiem Eternal Light, in which the words of the Latin Mass are interspersed with various poems in English. Given that at times the wind could be heard threatening to take the roof off the building, it was appropriate that ‘Lead Kindly Light’ formed part of the Requiem, and the choir rendered ‘The night is dark and I am far from home’ with particular feeling!

The solos, which comprised the poems for the most part, were sang very movingly by soprano Heather Heighway and tenor Dominic Stewart. An unexpected delight was that, in some movements, students from St Wilfrid’s Academy dance company A.D.Versity performed pieces that they themselves had created with their teacher.

One member of the audience summed it up thus: ‘The combination of the three elements – choir, soloists and dancers – was wonderful.’

In fact the whole evening seemed to go down well with its audience some of whom commented that it was ‘refreshingly different’ and ‘worth struggling through the storm for’. Given the atrocious weather that evening, that is praise indeed.