Petersfield Musical Festival online retrospective 4: recollecting 2015

Jonathan Willcocks: A Great and Glorious Victory

In October 2012 Jonathan Willcocks led an inspiring Festival workshop on his choral work A Great and Glorious Victory, timed to coincide with preparations for singers from several UK choirs to join an international choir in Carnegie Hall, New York, in early 2013.

The Festival’s own performance of A Great and Glorious Victory, conducted by Paul Spicer with Peter Aisher as soloist, followed in 2015. The work both inspired and challenged the combined Fernhurst and Petersfield choral societies and Midhurst Music Society, with its complex rhythms, explosive depictions of battle and storm, and powerful emotional range from conflict to resolution.

Trafalgar was not the only battle being fought – David Francombe described the drama of the chorus ‘battling valiantly against a huge volume of sound from the orchestra’.

The work memorably involves the audience singing the great hymns ‘Eternal Father, strong to save‘ and, in conclusion, ‘The day Thou gavest, Lord is ended’. The closing bars, said David, with the offstage soloist singing the word ‘Victory!, Victory!’ were ‘pure magic!’

Also: Hampshire Police Male Voice Choir with Quintessential Brass

National celebrations of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta – new short cantata with words and music by Philip Young

The Parnassian Ensemble – Their programme for the Festival, subtitled ‘Cross-currents’, included twentieth-century music by Bohuslav Martinù and Ryohei Hirose as well as one of their own commissions, Flourishes and Dances by Steve Marshall, who was in the audience. ‘I hope he was delighted with tonight’s engaging performance, full of jazz rhythms and occasional dissonances,’ wrote Ann Pinhey. Of the whole programme, Ann wrote, ‘Everything was elegant, polished and performed with virtuosity and assurance. Wonderful!’

Petersfield Orchestra – Beethoven’s ‘Egmont’ overture received ‘an impressive performance, full of warmth and drama’, wrote Ann Pinhey. In Bizet’s Symphony in C, ‘Robin Browning galvanised his players, giving a polished, energetic reading.

Gerald Finzi: Intimations of Immortality is a big and challenging work, so who better to prepare a performance than Paul Spicer, a trustee of the Finzi Society and foremost exponent of the British choral music of the period, who named his own chamber choir the Finzi Singers?

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