Plymouth Philharmonic Choir’s Orb and Sceptre concert was as priceless and colourful as the Crown Jewels it was named after. The red, white and blue colours of the choir were further enhanced by the sun pouring through the stained glass windows of the Minster Church of St Andrew in Plymouth, setting the scene on what proved to be another sensational concert.
Under the baton of Director of Music, Christopher Fletcher, the choir deployed their trade mark formula of using both head and heart to sing the beautiful programme of music, much of which was played at the 1953 Coronation.
Musical colour and maximum impact
The choir paid great attention to detail so that every passage had musical colour and maximum impact on the listener. This was the case both in the faster, dramatic pieces with punchy rhythms and the quieter, soothing melodies. Anne-Marie Smith sang the soprano solo beautifully in the sublime O Taste and See by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
The rising crescendo of the opening phrase of Hubert Parry’s I Was Glad saw the choir sing with unbridled joy. Harnessing all of their skills and energy the choir gave a first class performance of William Walton’s Coronation Te Deum. Choir chairman, Margy Keene, thanked Christopher for his energy, enthusiasm and musicianship which enabled him to draw out the best from the choir.
Former Classic FM presenter, John Suchet, who compered the event, said: ‘The choir and Christopher were a joy to work with and even more of a joy to listen to. It was a great concert, and I was proud to be part of it.’ A sense of pride was the sentiment expressed by choir president Brain Gerry who commented: ‘It was an amazing performance that will be remembered for a very long time.’
The audience were treated to the outstanding playing of Timothy Noon, Director of Music at Exeter Cathedral and a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists. The organ in the church is the second largest in the South West and was the perfect instrument for the four solo pieces: Elgar’s Nimrod and Pomp and Circumstance March and Walton’s Crown Imperial Coronation March and Orb and Sceptre Coronation March. It wasn’t until after the performance that it became known that there had been a technical issue with the organ in the first half. Tim’s wife commented, ‘He was like an octopus trying to get the stops working to create the musical effect.’ It is a testament to his considerable talent that very few people had even been aware that there had been a problem!
If you are interested in joining the choir please contact the Membership Secretary, Pat Brodie (01752 330337 email@example.com). Rehearsals start on Thursday 8 September at the Meade King Hall, Plymouth College.
Details about the choir’s next concert, Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus on Sunday 4 December and the Choral Workshop being led by David Lawrence on Saturday 8 October, are available on the choir’s website (https://plymouthphilchoir.org).
Top image: Plymouth Philharmonic Choir Orb and Sceptre Concert