In front of a very large audience, Michael Barlow conducted his final concert with Hurst Green Singers. The programme included Spirituals from a Child of our Time, the Haydn Mass in Time of War as well as two Shakespeare songs which had been composed by Michael. Four very talented young soloists joined the choir who were accompanied by Alec Crowe and the Hurst Green Sinfonia.
Michael has directed Hurst Green Singers for 33 years and in the closing speeches, the Reverend Anna Eltringham commented particularly on Michael's musicianship, his ability to put together a wonderful music programme, his unending patience and for being such a good person with whom to work. At the end of the concert, the choir sprung a musical surprise on Michael by singing The Music's Always There by Rutter which he very much appreciated.
The choir presented Michael with a CD collection of vocal music and a cheque as a token of their appreciation. He will be very much missed and the choir wish him all the best in his future endeavours.
We are delighted to announce that Dr James Meaders has been appointed as our Music Director and will start in September 2018. James has recently moved to the UK from the USA where he held a number of positions including Professor and Director of Choral Activities in the Department of Music at Mississippi College.
James has a wealth of experience in choral conducting and the choir is really looking forward to working with him.
Our performance of Handel's Messiah attracted one of our largest audiences. Directed by Michael Barlow (in his last Christmas performance with Hurst Green Singers) and accompanied by Alec Crowe on the organ, the choir sang all but one of the choruses from The Messiah. The four soloists (Anna Cavaliero - soprano, Anna Prowse - mezzo soprano, Hiroshi Amako - tenor and Paul Grant - bass) were superb making this a most enjoyable evening.
This concert was particularly well attended with around 100 people. The concert started with Puccini's Messa di Gloria and were accompanied by Alec Crowe on the piano. Alex Bevan was the tenor soloist and two choir members, Lesley Todd and Brian Shearing also performed solos during this work.
This work was first performed in Lucca, Italy to great acclaim. However, it subsequently remained unknown until 1951. It is an inspired piece, full of youthful spontaneity, with a strong influence from Italian opera composers, particularly Verdi.
The second half of the concert comprised of operatic choruses and arias including Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves, Anvil Chorus, Chorus of the Wedding Guests and the Triumphal Scene from Aida. Barbara Richards, a choir member sang Voce di donna and the tenor soloist, Alex, sang Alfredo's recitative and aria from La Traviata to great applause. In fact, he was persuaded to do an encore and sung an aria from La Boheme - without the music (as indeed was the case for the pianist as an encore hadn't been planned) and they both amazed us all.
By common consent this was a particularly well-chosen programme enjoyed equally by both choir and audience. Michael Barlow, as ever, conducted.