Lord Williams’s Festival Chorus performed on Saturday night to much acclaim from a packed audience at Thame Leisure Centre. The choir, led by Musical Director Jeff Stewart, performed two very different pieces. The first was Johann Hummel’s Mass in E flat, an intricate work with wonderful choral writing and superb orchestration. Hummel, a little-known composer, was a pupil of Mozart and Haydn and was known as one of the top pianists of his day. Due to an increasing number of live concerts across the world, his music is now becoming re-established in the classical repertoire. The choir was joined by the wonderful soloists Victoria Joyce, Joanne Thomas, Paul Badley and Guy Harbottle.
In stark contrast, after the interval the audience was treated to a work by one of the most popular and prolific composers in the world today. Karl Jenkins’ Gloria sets the traditional Latin text ‘Gloria in excelsis Deo’, along with Psalm 150, sung in Hebrew on the night, and readings from Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and Islam between the five movements. All the hallmarks of Jenkins’ writing were there with quirky rhythms, contrasting big sounds alongside quieter, contemplative pieces, and hypnotic ethnic percussion. Melissa Stewart sang the beautiful I’ll Make Music and the readings were given in English by Jay Lynch.
The choir was accompanied by a magnificent forty-two-piece orchestra with members of the BBC Concert Orchestra, Ealing Symphony Orchestra and students from the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music as well as many freelance musicians.
“I’m so proud of the choir,” said Jeff. “They really went for it and performed with energy and fire. The soloists, reader and orchestra all brought a sense of real class to the evening.”