Today started off at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, only a few blocks from the hotel, where I heard the Rodolfus Choir, a group of 32 young singers. Their program consisted mostly of choral transcriptions of instrumental works such as the Barber Adagio for Strings. The group arranged themselves in smaller ensembles around the church, creating a “surround sound” effect that was not entirely successful resulting in a few ensemble problems. Surprisingly the building was quite dead acoustically and with the noise from ambulances, trucks and trains, it was not ideal. My experience with dead rooms is that singers must absolutely not “push,” and I am afraid this group sang too loudly for my tastes.
One piece that caught my attention was the famous Miserere by Gregorio Allegri with its infamous high Cs. The director asked which sopranos wanted to tackle it and four girls raised their hands. So he had four separate small ensembles sing the verses with each soprano getting two chances to sing the high C. Every single one nailed it perfectly.
After our third time of going to the restaurant called Prezzo (we really must have liked the food to keep going back!) we attended the 5:30 Evensong with the St. Cecilia Singers. I learned my lesson—I deliberately sat in the transept because although I had to look at the choir on a video monitor, the sound was a lot better than sitting in the choir stalls. Remember the fan vaulting?
Tonight’s concert was an all-Mozart concert, with the Te Deum and A major Clarinet concerto on the first half. The excellent clarinet soloist was a woman, Emma Johnson, who is one of only a few clarinetists in Britain who make their living as soloists.
The second half was the Mozart Requiem and I told Vreni that this was the first time I heard it live with boys singing soprano. The choir was the Three Cathedral Choirs, not the mixed Festival Chorus. I really enjoyed listening to the sweet sound of the boy sopranos singing the top.
Tomorrow is my last day at the Festival and I am ready to come home!