I was intrigued by the listing of the organ prelude at Worcester Cathedral’s Sung Eucharist today: Prelude and Fugue on BACH —J.S. Bach (1685-1750). As far as I know, Bach never wrote a prelude and Fugue on these four pitches: B-flat, A, C, B-natural. As the organist began, however, I immediately recognized the Franz Liszt setting of this piece, so even the English make boo-boos in their church bulletins! It was well-played by organist Christopher Allsop.
The service was sung by the Worcester Cathedral Choir and the Cathedral Voluntary Choir (under the direction of Peter Nardone) and when I saw them walking in procession, half the choir was wearing red cassocks and the others were wearing blue. It reminded me of the times the Lutheran Church of Honolulu choir combined forces with St. Andrew’s Cathedral with blue and red cassocks respectfully. (“Blue and red“).
The choir sang Missa Vigornia by Piers Kennedy (b.1991) which was commissioned by Worcester Cathedral. My goodness, he is the same age as my former organ student, Joey Fala!
Those of you who read music know how frustrating it is when the lyrics are not lined up underneath the notes as is typical in English hymnals. It’s fine for familiar hymns, but for new hymns, it is harder to sing. I have to admit, however, that I am getting better at it!
That is, until I got to Evensong tonight where the words were on one side of the page and the music (a hymn by John Scott 1956-2015) was on the back—no way!
This afternoon’s Evensong was sung by the three Cathedral Choirs of Worcester, Hereford and Gloucester and I can only tell you that when I heard the first few notes from the soaring boy sopranos, a chill went through my body. It was that thrilling! The choir sang the Service in B minor by Hugh Blair and Kenneth Leighton’s Let all the world.
After Evensong we rushed over to the adjacent Old Palace where there was a nice catered reception for the American Friends of the Three Choirs Festival.I was happy to see Rich Arenschieldt, who has spearheaded this effort to have Americans attend and support the Festival. You may remember I wrote about him last year—he has been coming to the Three Choirs Festival for over 25 years. In fact it is through donations of the American Friends that we are to sponsor the appearance of the Kings College Choir later in the week. At the reception I was very happy to meet and talk with Peter Nardone, conductor of last night’s performance of A child in our time, and told him how much I was moved by the stunning work. He told me last night was the first time he had conducted the piece. I asked him if the Brits are familiar with the spirituals, and he said they learn them from childhood. I also took a picture of Priscilla and Jim Carlsen, a couple from Michigan whom I met at last year’s festival. We always seemed to pick seats in the same general vicinity! I also met Willard Thomen, who attended the University of Hawaii in the 60s and sang under John McCreary at St. Andrew’s Cathedral! He now lives in Illinois and directs a Presbyterian choir. He was sorry to learn that John died four years ago. He especially remembered Betsy McCreary and told me John called her “Betsy-kins”—but I told him I had always known John to call her Dreamboat.
It was time to rush back to the Cathedral for the evening concert which I’ll write about in the next post.