Sunday, August 15, 2010
Today saw the culmination of 41 years of singing with the St Maura Singers - we had intended it as a 40th anniversary concert, but illness meant cancellation last Autumn and today we resurrected that programme, having managed to reassemble with the two extra singers required by some of the music. During those 41 years of singing together, the quartet has frequently performed the early Scottish music arranged by Kenneth Elliott, who is now 81 but was 40 when we were discovering this music. So it was forty years that vanished into the fold of memory as I listened to the string ensemble play, and to the ravishing Lamento della Ninfa of Monteverdi, and I was at once young again and wondering how many more times I would be able to experience this particular joy.
Most of the music this afternoon came from the 16th century, but two notable exceptions were the very new arrangements by John McIntosh (aka Mr B) of folk songs - The Broken Brook and Nancy - originally commissioned by Cappella Nova. The shifting, folk-based syncopations of Nancy had caused our augmented group more problems than we might care to admit, and we were thrilled that it actually came together - proof of which was that wonderful sigh from the audience in the moment before the applause began.
The other high point for me was that at last we got to perform the Tomkins When David Heard. I've gone on about this before on the blog; this afternoon's performance became somehow electric so that we balanced on a fine wire between emotion and perfection and ended in a silence that seemed eternal.
If this afternoon's performance were to turn out to be the last time the voice held out, the last time I would have the privilege of singing this stuff, I would be content. Not so content, however, that I don't hope we can do it again ...