Holy Week is a time for spiritual reflection, and there could scarcely have been a more conducive backdrop for it than the programme performed by Tongswood Chamber Choir at St Mary’s Rye on Sunday, April 10.
As one beautiful piece followed another, there was a real sense of focused contemplation amongst those in the audience. The programme ranged from the Renaissance to the current day and took in composers from all over Europe. One of the features of Tongswood concerts is the commentary between items provided by Martin Bruce, their conductor, who sets the music in context and finds some quirky, fascinating insights into the various composers.
The Rector of St. Mary’s, Rev. Paul White, shares his view of the evening: “On Sunday, April 10 it gave me great pleasure to welcome the Tongswood Chamber Choir, and their director Martin Bruce, to St Mary’s church for an evening of choral music. The musical theme of the evening was the Passion of Christ and the headline piece was Allegri’s Miserere Mei, but the ‘other music’ (as promised on the poster) was equally captivating and moving. The nave of the church felt comfortably full and there was a palpable sense of anticipation in the audience as the 20 black-clad choristers and their director took their places in the transept.
“Martin opened the evening by reminding the audience that whilst the musical theme of the evening was the suffering of Christ we were also there to raise funds for those who are currently suffering the effects of war in Ukraine. I said a prayer for Ukraine and then the evening commenced with a sung prayer for peace in that country, and the same prayer was again sung at the end. In between those two prayers I can only say that the Tongswood Chamber Choir, and Martin, treated us to a sung musical feast equal to anything I have heard, including at Glyndebourne or in the Proms.
“In addition to the Miserere (in which the top Cs sounded magnificent) we heard pieces from Tallis, Purcell, Rachmaninov and Mendelssohn. Each one was beautiful, flawless and sublime. The acoustics of St Mary’s complements the sung voice perfectly, and many hearts soared. We were also treated to a De Profundis, written by Martin himself, and that was hauntingly wonderful, with different voices calling and responding to one another in an incredibly evocative manner.
“The music was truly astounding and I look forward to welcoming Tongswood back to St Mary’s at the earliest opportunity. At the end of the evening Martin and I reminded the audience that whilst we were lucky to be here listening to this music, that many in Ukraine are suffering right now and that we can be the answer to their prayers. The charitable response amounted to £1,500 and all proceeds went to RefugEase (UK Charity 1175022) who are working directly with those in need. Do please think about supporting them too.”
Image Credits: Kt Bruce .