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Thrilling Concert at Edington Priory

by Gerry Lynch last modified 17 Dec, 2015 07:44 PM

Choir of Merton College, Oxford, sings at famous Wiltshire church.

A packed Edington Priory Church enjoyed a thrilling Advent Concert given by the supremely talented mixed voice choir of Merton College Oxford, under the direction of Benjamin Nicholas, Merton’s Director of Music and Director of the Edington Music Festival.

It was the climax of Edington Arts’ first year of promoting high quality professional music in the church, the fourth of the series. Top-flight musicians have performed on a range of instruments in a variety of styles, from organ to brass, a choral workshop with Bob Chilcott and two very different choral concerts.

The Merton College Choir is regarded as one of the top mixed voice choirs in the country. The first half of the programme made the journey from plainchant, through William Byrd and Bach, to Advent pieces commissioned by Merton for the Merton Choirbook from Latvian composers Rihards Dubra and Eriks Esenwalds, to ‘O Oriens’, a huge piece by Matthew Martin commissioned by St Paul’s Cathedral. Ben Nicholas recreated the piece in Edington, separating the tenors and basses in the North Transept from the sopranos and altos in the South Transept, with the new Harrison and Harrison organ at its glorious and triumphant best linking the two, played by organ scholar Peter Shephard.

The second half comprised pieces by Benjamin Britten, Vaughan Williams, Bach, Bob Chilcott and more Matthew Martin, as well as traditional carols. Beautiful, committed singing, clever programming, and an ambience made special by atmospheric lighting and candlelight, mulled wine and mince pies resulted in a very very special evening.

Edington Arts has another quality programme lined up for 2016, beginning with a solo organ recital in by Ashely Grote, former Director of the Edington Music Festival and now Master of Music at Norwich Cathedral. Full details are available on Edington Arts’ website, www.edingtonarts.org

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