Our spring concert was held in the beautiful church of St. George’s in Trotton, somewhere we have never sung before. The programme included Night Flight by Cecilia McDowall, composed to mark the centenary of the American Harriet Quimby, who was the first woman to fly across the English Channel in 1912. She received little recognition for this remarkable feat, overshadowed as it was by the sinking of the Titanic just the day before. Written for a cappella choral ensemble and cello solo the three songs are settings of poems by British poet Sheila Bryer. Also included in the programme were Samuel Barber’s Agnus Dei, and Requeim (A Thanksgiving for Life) the 2007 composition by Sir Philip Ledger who was for many years the Director of the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge.
The risk of an ambitious programme certainly paid off, with positive reviews from many of the audience, including Elizabeth Gotto who founded the choir in 1972. Here is an extract from her letter to the choir:
‘Thank you so much for the wonderful concert the other evening in an historic church. I could hardly believe that Froxfield Choir had tackled the Celia McDowall, a work which is not easy to say the least! What a wonderful change to hear something unusual and not in the normal running of choral works. Your musicianship must have improved no end during this work!
The Philip Ledger was easy listening and I had not heard it before. The soprano [Alice Howell] was outstanding and rare to find such a high register at that age; I think she will go far. The cellist was also good and a great asset to the McDowell…
Thank you to you all and, of course, to your conductor who has courage, a sense of humour and confidence in you which paid off.’