Plymouth Philharmonic Choir’s first performance in two years has been heralded a tremendous success. Under the baton of Musical Director, Christopher Fletcher, audience members, orchestral players and singers alike were caught up in all of the emotions evoked by a live performance of the music of Haydn’s Nelson Mass and Mozart’s Coronation Mass.
Jenny Shepley the choir’s retired accompanist of 24 years said: ‘The choir sang superbly, from the first electrifying ‘Kyrie’ in the Haydn to the moving and heartfelt ‘Dona nobis pacem’ of the Mozart.’ Others commented: ‘We were both really energised by the evening’ and ‘I loved every minute of it. The choir sounded absolutely fantastic.’
Moving from the rehearsal phase to the performance is where the magic so often happens and this concert was no exception, with the result being far greater than the sum of its parts.
The choir would like to express its appreciation to the 35 members of the orchestra for their wonderful playing and considerable commitment, with musicians travelling a total return distance of over 3000 miles on the day. Soloists Philippa Hyde (soprano), Kate Symonds-Joy (mezzo-soprano), Matthew Pochin (tenor) and John Hobbs (baritone) were on top form and enriched the performance with their musical prowess and personalities. Philippa Hyde’s beautiful voice navigated the complex runs and soaring notes in Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate effortlessly.
Whilst Boris Johnson’s attention had gone from Oh Macron to Omicron, the choir’s new Concert Secretary, Charles Morgan, was having his own Oh! moment when on the day of the concert he was contacted by the original baritone soloist who needed to self-isolate. The choir were delighted to welcome John Hobbs who stood in with only a few hours’ notice, his leisurely Sunday plans turned upside down. Musical Director of the North Devon Choral Society and well-known baritone soloist, John is also a retired farmer.
After the concert he reflected that ‘it had been most pleasurable, participating in an exhilarating performance of glorious music, and greeting old friends in both the choir and orchestra’. He was also thankful that he didn’t have to milk the cows at midnight and suffer their indignant bellows and reproachful looks!
The concert was particularly poignant for Christopher Fletcher as this year marks his 25th anniversary as the choir’s Musical Director. Commenting to the choir he said ‘You don’t know just how much you value something until it’s gone. The concert was a triumph and something none of us expected, even in our wildest dreams, 18 months ago.’
Energy, enthusiasm and expertise
On behalf of the choir, chairman Margy Keene paid thanks to Christopher for the energy, enthusiasm and expertise he has offered to the choir over the years.
Plans are already underway for the next concert on Sunday 3 April 2022 with a performance of Verdi’s Requiem under the magic of his baton.
For further information, see the choir’s website (https://plymouthphilchoir.org).
top image: Plymouth Philharmonic Choir November 2021 courtesy of Howard Perks
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