Dona Nobis Pacem - Grant News and Review, 22 March 2014

Singers win grant to fund performance

14 Mar 2014

RICHMONDSHIRE Choral Society will perform Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem and Faure’s Requiem in St Mary’s Church, Richmond, on Saturday, March 22.

The Vaughan Williams work is not often performed and consequently the society has been awarded a grant by the Ralph Williams Charitable Trust to help fund the concert. The conductor, Peter Collis, was keen it should be sung this year as a tribute to the memory of all those who served in the First World War.

The choir will be accompanied by a small ensemble from the Cleveland Chamber Orchestra with a piano providing the major accompaniment in the Vaughan Williams.

 

Review: Richmondshire Choral Society, St Mary’s Church

4 Apr 2014

The performance of Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem which opened this concert was particularly appropriate this year which marks the centenary of the First World War.

Written in 1936, it was inspired by the composer’s experience in that war with texts including Walt Whitman’s lines written after his experience in the American Civil War.

It also marked another centenary as the performance was dedicated to Vic Furneaux, a choir member for 28 years, who died in January, having sung for the last time, at the age of 100, in 2012.

There was personal connection for conductor Peter Collis, whose first composition teacher had been a pupil of Vaughan Williams.

For this occasion Mr Collis had coopted a section from the Cleveland Chamber Orchestra, which provided a small string section.

Perhaps because it is less familiar and also due to Vaughan Williams’ distinct harmonies, I suspect it was a considerable challenge for the choir, with one member overheard telling friends in the audience beforehand that although it might sound discordant in places, it was meant to do so.

With two fine young soloists, soprano Eleanor Gartside and baritone Graham McCusker, it seemed to me that Peter Collis coaxed a suitably telling performance of this plea for peace.

In the second half we heard the more familiar Requiem by Fauré which contained so many beautiful moments.

Soloists and orchestra performed well and the choir produced lovely singing throughout, including the Sanctus, the Agnus Dei with voices soft at first and building up in volume and some superb control in the many-layered In Paradisum.

Peter Bevan

RCS Note - This was Peter Collis' last concert with us. He had always told us that he wanted the Fauré Requiem to be the last work we did with him before he retired but that was expected to be 3 years later than it actually was. Peter did not return to choir the following September and passed away in November of that year.


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