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The lead up to the concert in the very atmospheric and beautiful St Mary’s Church in Barnes was quite something as we appreciated what an honour it was to be asked and realised what an ambitious piece of music we had to learn but we all worked hard to rise to the challenge. The setting and mood of the event on Saturday night provided us with the impetus to sing from the heart with the boys’ Chapel Choir, accompanied by the wonderful Barnes Festival Orchestra conducted by the Festival’s Artistic Director, James Day, to provide the necessary backdrop and support to the soloists, Camilla Harris (soprano), Dafydd Jones (tenor) and Johannes Moore (bass) who were all amazing! It was such an exciting event to take part in and great to be able to listen to and watch others whilst also performing on stage.
Singing in a choir can be both bonding and uplifting for the singers and the audience and when it works, it is a powerful way of sharing an emotion. Eternal Light had just this effect on me and it was made even more special by the opening address of the Festival’s Chairman, Andrew Summers, who quoted from the composer’s message in the programme highlighting that ‘of course all concerts of all kinds at the moment take place in the shadow of terrible, fearful events in the world’ and that perhaps the words of John Henry Newman in Movement 4 have even more resonance than usual – ‘Lead, kindly light, amid encircling gloom, Lead thou me on. The night is dark, and I am far from home – lead thou me on. Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see The distant scene – one step enough for me’.