Tuesday 29 August 2006

Edington Diary - Sunday/Monday

We’ve just spent the last week at the Edington Festival of Music within the Liturgy. Held at the lovely 13th century priory church in Edington, Wiltshire, the Festival presents 4 services a day sung by 3 choirs. The day starts with the Schola Cantorum (director Andrew Carwood) singing plainchant Matins. Then at 11.30 the morning service (usually Sung Eucharist) is sung by the Schola Cantorum, the Nave Choir (men and boys directed by Robert Quinney) and the Consort (a mixed voice choir directed by Jeremy Summerley). Evening service is at 8.00pm (usually Evensong) again sung by all 3 choirs and then followed by the Schola doing Compline by candle light. This year we were staying in the next village to Edington so we were able to attend every service.

I kept a rough diary whilst at the festival, so am publishing it in instalments on the blog, there will probably be an entry each day for the next 5 days, covering the 6 days of the festival that we attended.

All the services were very popular and the church was full to bursting for the 2 main services each day. A surprising number of people came along at 9.00am for Matins.

Things started off on Sunday evening with Compline sung by all 3 choirs. The service included Tallis’s Te lucis ante terminum sung alternim with plainchant and John Sheppard’s In manus tuas which brought back memories of the eight:fifteen vocal ensemble performing the work at my birthday concert last year at the Barbican (co-incidentally 2 of the 8:15 singers were participating in the festival). The service finished with a lovely performance of Pierre Villette’s Hymne a la Vierge, closing with some fabulous bluesy chords.

At Sung Eucharist on Monday the mass setting was Vittoria’s Missa O Quam Gloriosum, with the boys of the nave choir producing a lovely line in the music. Juan Esquivel’s Ego sum panis vivus, beautifully sung by the Consort, was not known to me and I hope to encounter it again. The Hymn Thee we adore was sung to a new tune by John Barnard. The service concluded with a masterly performance of Bach’s Passacaglia in C minor; though it was perhaps slightly perverse to conclude a very long service with a 15 minute voluntary. The service was very, very popular partly because the preacher was Lord Carey.

Monday evening’s service was Evensong sung just by the Nave choir. Sydney Watson’s Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis were interesting and sounded very practical; Watson (1903 – 1991) is a name that is new to me. Finzi’s Welcome sweet and sacred feast was fabulous and it is now very high on my list of works that I’d like to sing.

The organ prelude at Monday’s Compline was the Sanctus and Benedictus from an organ mass published in 1531 by Pierre Attaignant; the same source that we mined for our organ Magnificat at the FifteenB concert at this years Chelsea Festival.

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