Coughs and colds are a curse for any singer. Imagine then the dilemma faced by Plymouth Philharmonic Choir when Covid struck just 3 weeks before one of their biggest concerts. What else was there to do but keep calm and carry on, with people practising at home until negative results were secured and they could rejoin rehearsals.
Wonderful, highly skilled and dedicated musicians
The choir’s new concert secretary Charles Morgan had spent 2 months assembling the 50 strong orchestra and finding soloists with the right operatic credentials, so quitting in the face of adversity was never an option. Players went above and beyond, travelling from Newlyn, Cornwall and Sherborne, Dorset, driving to distribute scores and taking on a different part on the day to make it all happen. Charles rightly commented: “I am immensely proud of the orchestra. We are exceptionally fortunate to have such wonderful, highly skilled and dedicated musicians who have been unstinting in their help.”
A combination of medication, hard work and sheer determination to do justice to the much-loved music of Verdi’s Requiem resulted in a triumphant performance and one that will live long in the memory. Choir president, Brian Gerry, felt that it was one of the best performances that he has ever attended. He, together with choir chairman, Margy Keene, praised Christopher Fletcher, Director of Music, for his energy, musical excellence and expertise, enabling the choir to be the best it can be.
Audience member Catherine Ruse remarked: ‘I was riveted throughout, as were those around me. I have never known an audience so still until they erupted in rapturous applause as the last notes of the Libera Me faded away.’
T Flynn commented: ‘It was thrilling from the start and gave me goosebumps regularly, not just the Dies Irae theme but also the wonderfully executed quiet passages. The sound of the large choir singing quietly was magical. The enunciation and precision were testament to how well-rehearsed the choir is, and how dedicated.’
Still overawed by the experience the following day, Mick South stated: ‘Catherine Hamilton was outstanding in this choral masterpiece, complemented by a celebrated cast of quite exceptional soloists [Alison Kettlewell, Robyn Lyn Evans and Darren Jeffery], and her top B flat in the Libera me was simply angelic, and a moving end to the intensity of this emotional work of genius.’
The performance was dedicated to the community of Keyham and to the people of Ukraine. Kaye Rogers commented: ‘The concert was a very fitting and emotional tribute to the innocent victims of unprovoked violence; It drew tears on more than one occasion’. Organisers were overwhelmed by the generosity of those who attended. The retiring collection raised nearly £1300 which will be divided between the Plymouth Together Fund and the Disasters Emergency Committee.
Orb and Sceptre
The choir’s next concert, Orb and Sceptre: A Musical Celebration for the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II takes place on Saturday 9 July at 7.30pm. in The Minster Church of St Andrew, Plymouth. The renowned journalist and Classic FM presenter, John Suchet will be compering the programme which will include music performed at the 1953 Coronation. (Further details https://plymouthphilchoir.org).
To get these celebrations started, rehearsals begin on Thursday 21 April, for further information please contact the Membership Secretary (firstname.lastname@example.org / 01752 330337).
top image: The whole ensemble. Courtesy of Howard Perks.
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