The concert was a great success. After only 11 rehearsals, (one was cancelled because of heavy snow) we sang in Marlborough College Chapel to great applause from the audience, after the final chord of the Brahms "German Requiem" had faded away. This piece has been one of the most emotionally exhausting works I have ever sung. It has many long, sustained notes, and is a work of great sadness and contrasts in mood and sound, with many crescendos and diminuendos, all contained sometimes in just one or two notes. Apart from JS Bach's "Magnificat," in which I don't think I will ever sing every note, the "Requiem" has been the most difficult to sing. On the score, every note looks simple enough, but to introduce every intended subtle mood, phrase and contrast, required much sustained concentration! By the fourth movement the choir was beginning to tire, as we had already been rehearsing for three hours throughout the afternoon.
The programme, with a photograph of Johannes Brahms, is pictured left. Our second work of the evening was the "Te Deum" by Anton Dvorak, a Czech composer, who spent the later part of his life working in America. When he became director of the New York Conseravatory in 1891, he was commissioned to write this work to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus
The day was cold, and the chapel cold, but we sang well at the afternoon rehearsal dressed in winter garb. We could not sing too strongly, as we had to save our voices to produce greats sounds at the actual concert itself. The College Chapel, dedicated to St Michael and All Angels, was erected on the site of an older one, and was built by Stevens & Barstow at a cost of £31,000. It was consecrated by the Bishop of Salisbury on September 29th 1886.
The orchestra has tuned up, and here sit the sopranos waiting for the conductor, with the soloists, to enter the chapel. The ladies sit on both sides of the central aisle, with the gentlemen basses and tenors sitting at the high altar in front of the reredos. The orchestra is seated in the centre aisle. Violins can just be seen in the middle of the photo.
Simon, our conductor stands in front of the choir waiting to begin the concert, with part of the large audience sitting in the background. In the centre sits Jacques Imbrailo, a South African baritone, whose wonderfully rich voice sang the solos in the "Requiem" and in Dvorak´s "Te Deum." To the other side of Simon sits Mary Bevan, a young, wonderfully talented soprano, who sang the solos in both works. It was a lovely, music filled evening, and we all went home feeling enriched by the experience.