Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Choir of Royal St George's College Toronto arrive at Buckfast Abbey for a Choral Concert Tuesday 21 June 1.15pm

The Choir of St George's College Toronto arrive at Buckfast Abbey
led by Choir Master Douglas Jameson
The Exterior is under renovation

The day after a recital at Exeter Cathedral which was not generally known about, but well attended by Cathedral visitors, The Choir of St George's College in Toronto gave a lunchtime recital at Buckfast Abbey at 1.15 on Tuesday 21 June.
The Day was perfect as the men and boys of the choir arrived in the grounds of the Abbey. After processing through the beautiful grounds the choir sang on the Chancel Steps in front of the Abbey Alter, accompanied on the Abbey organ by their regular organist Giles Bryant. Giles has been organist at St James Cathedral in Toronto for more than thirty years, and also accompanies and sings with the choir at their regular rehearsal venue, the partially completed building (originally intended to be Toronto's new Cathedral) St Alban's Hall.

But all is still beautiful inside
The programme included sacred choral music by  Anton Bruckner, Richard Shepherd (York Minster), Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Howard Goodall and John Rutter. The announcements by the Choir Master, Douglas Jameson, were hard to hear as they echoed around the nave, but the same effect only enhanced the magical harmonies and resonances of the singing. When Organist, Giles Bryant, joined the choir for a cappella singing of music by Palestrina, a new sound was added to the voices of the choir. Outside, the stonemasons, brought in at great expense, and unable to stop work even for a moment, continued to chip away at stone high on their scaffolding. Far from detracting from the music, the sound reminded us all of the painstaking work of the German Benedictine monks at Buckfast who rebuilt the Abbey by hand in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Three boy soloists
for Howard Goodall's

arrangement of Psalm 23
Three boy soloists threw their treble voices into the wonderful acoustic space of the Abbey in their version of Howard Goodall's 'Psalm 23', made famous as the theme tune of Dawn French's 'Vicar of Dibley'. The programme must be popular in Canada too!
Giles Bryant joined the choir again for 'Ave Maria' augmenting the wonderful bass harmonies. Finally he returned to the organ to accompany the choir in John Rutter's 'The Lord Bless You and Keep You'. As the boys sang the title line in their high light voices another voice echoed around the building. A small child sitting the trancept was finding it all a little too much to bear. His sobs competed for attention and were answered with the closing words, " . . . and give you peace!" A very moving end to a delightful and unexpected concert.

Toronto St James' Cathedral Organist
Giles Bryant (far right) joins the choir
for a cappella singing of 'Ave Maria'
Many thanks to the organisers, including  Janet Somerville the Senior School English Mistress at Royal St George's College in Toronto. She is travelling with the choir on their tour of the UK. After moving on to Hereford Cathedral the choir have bookings in Oxford and Coventry. Full details can be found on twitter, at #rsgcchoirtouruk. Currently (Thursday 23 June) they are in Worcester. Janet has photos on 'Instagram'. 
Apologies to anyone who didn't get enough advance warning to see this splendid choir. I'm really hoping that there will be another tour - maybe next year!

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