REVIEW – White Horse Opera’s Christmas Concert, including Faure’s Requiem @ St John’s Church, Devizes – Saturday 18th December 2021

Chilly Church Concert

Andy Fawthrop

I’m not sure why White Horse Opera are so shy of publicity, but I’d seen very little on social media that this event was even taking place.  Trusting that it was still on, I rocked up at the appointed time, and sure enough there was a gathering of those in the know.  The church was only about half full, and surely would have had a much bigger turn-out if there had been more advertising?  Given all the hard work that goes into rehearsal to produce these concerts to a very high standard, could I tactfully and very gently suggest that they work a bit harder on telling people about what they are doing? (They do usually contact us with news of forthcoming events, although not on this occasion, Andy; Ed.)

St John’s is wonderful old church, built and re-modelled at several stages through the ages, and makes for a challenging concert space.  The main body of the church, housing the pews with the masked-up audience, has a very high vaulted ceiling which creates a very big space to fill.  It also makes it difficult to heat at this time of the year, and I noticed that everyone was keeping their coats on.  So something of a chilly start.

The first half of the concert was a performance of Faure’s Requiem in D minor, Op. 48, composed in the late 19th century.  It’s a choral setting of the shortened Catholic Mass for the Dead in Latin, with a focus on eternal rest and consolation.  On this occasion the choral singers were accompanied only by solo piano played by Tony James.

I have to admit that this was a piece I was not familiar with, and (being honest) not one I’d have chosen as part of a Christmas concert.  Whilst delivered beautifully, voices soaring up into those lofty rafters, you can’t get away from the fact that it’s a very sombre piece.  Given the subject matter, that’s hardly surprising.  I personally found it rather difficult to follow and to enjoy, and was glad when the applause finally signalled that we had reached the interval.  Sorry – it’s not possible to enjoy everything, and this particular work didn’t really float my boat.

Unfortunately I had to leave at that point, as I had somewhere else to be, but hopefully the carols promised in the second half would have been more cheerful and uplifting.

Future WHO events:

Sat 8th Jan 2022                               Top of the Ops                                   7.30pm West Lavington Village Hall

Spring 2022                                        Ruddigore                                           7.30pm Venues TBA

26th, 28th & 29th Oct 2022          L’elisir d’amore                                 7.30pm Lavington School

More information on WHO is available at www.whitehorseopera.co.uk


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