It doesn’t seem two minutes since the performance of Jonathan Harvey’s Passion and Resurrection which closed last year’s inaugural Voices of London Festival. That concert was indicative of my experience of the whole festival: extraordinary, out-of-the-ordinary, incredibly varied in scope, ambitious, but most of all a roaring success.
My involvement with the festival was very broad and covered many different aspects: I was the organist for Passion and Resurrection, as well as one of many orchestra-fixers, techies, bar staff, singers, and pianists who worked behind the scenes. One particular highlight for me was conducting the choir of St Mary’s, Merton Park. Normally I am Visiting Organist at St Mary’s, and I also teach a number of the choristers. For a choir whose main purpose is leading regular worship in two sung Sunday services, the chance to perform in an evening concert in central London was a big part of their year. St James Sussex Gardens is a beautiful church with an excellent acoustic and large space for performances, so quite different from their usual venue. I ended up conducting that performance as their conductor was taken ill, so in fact everything was different for the singers: new conductor, new venue, new acoustic, new organ, even a new accompanist! Nonetheless they all rallied and rose to the occasion, and I’m sure that it will be something they will remember. It was an invaluable experience for both young and old members of the choir.
The festival last year provided many opportunities like this one to choirs across London and beyond, and the 2015 festival will be no different. Once again the final event in the festival will be something I am looking forward to in particular. I can’t reveal much at this stage, but it will be a large-scale collaborative choral concert with organ and instrumental ensemble. If this year’s festival once again manages to bring new and old established choirs to a new audience in a wonderful venue in the context of a broad-reaching series of events, it will have been a success. I am thrilled to be a part of it again.