In a concert billed as Songs for a Summer Evening, Molly Townson with her ladies’ choir “Cantabile” gave a concert at St Laurence Church, Guestling, on Saturday July 15, with two guest singers and an appearance by the church’s resident choir, also under Molly’s leadership.
It was an eclectic programme, full of fun and varying emotions. For me the highlights of the evening were “A Bunch of Thyme” with a lovely opening solo by Judy Atkinson and “The Rose” [one of my favourites] with a solo beautifully sung by Maxine Roach with her lovely rich contralto voice. Then a real treat in the shape of two songs, “Orpheus With His Lute” and “Foxgloves” sung by Fiona Osborne. This was the first time I had heard Fiona sing and I look forward to hearing that superb soprano sound again.
It was then the turn of the choir of St Laurence Church and they gave us “Fairest Lord Jesus” and “Look at the World” . This choir would be an asset to any church. Well done!
This was followed by three “Songs From the Sea” by the Finnish composer Aulis Sullinen. The last of these was “Ballad” and Cantabile was joined by Kate Rogers whose voice soared above the accompanying choir. Beautiful! The last offering of the first half was “The Seal Lullaby” a Rudyard Kipling poem set to music by Eric Whitacre.
And then? Strawberries and cream and a glass of wine. I sat in the churchyard and had mine whilst enjoying the view over our lovely countryside with Fairlight church in the distance.
So back inside for a splendid arrangement of “Amazing Grace” sung by Cantabile, and then two songs, “Bird Songs at Eventide” and “A Brown Bird Singing” sung for us by Kate. I have had the pleasure of hearing Kate sing several times in the past and her voice always gives so much pleasure. Two more songs by Cantabile, “In a Monastery Garden” and “Dream a Dream” were followed by what was possibly the highlight of the evening, the “Flower Duet” from Lakme by Delibes, sung so professionally and musically by Fiona and Kate. A gem.
Nearing the end, we had two final songs by Cantabile and Molly read a poem by Charles Peguy entitled “Nothing is so beautiful as a child going to sleep while he is saying his prayers, says God.” Beautifully written and equally beautifully read by Molly. The evening was brought to an end with the entire company singing “The Lord Bless You and Keep You”.
Not only are Cantabile a treat to listen to they are a treat to watch . Their enjoyment in what they are doing is evident on their faces. This was a lovely way to spend a summer evening. The money raised from ticket sales was £600 and this will go to the church restoration fund.
Cantabile was formed in January 2005 by Molly Townson as a choral opportunity for some of her singing pupils, four of whom continue in the choir to this day. Two months later they won their first Choir Class in a festival, and over the years they have participated in many festivals in Hastings and Worthing, winning many trophies. Their charitable work includes many concerts, their eclectic repertoire including early music through to contemporary music both sacred and secular, with a strong emphasis on the uplifting and inspirational. Molly believes that much of their success as a choir is through the bond of friendship through singing.
Guestling Church Choir was reconvened, after a period of having no choir, by Molly Townson when she stepped in as volunteer organist six years ago. This very happy group of singers who won the Church and Chapel Choir class in the Hastings Musical Festival last year, meet every Thursday evening to rehearse, and sing every Sunday at the morning service. New members are welcome.
For your diary.
Saturday July 22, 7pm at the White Rock Theatre, along with Laton Ash Dance Centre: Celebration 43
December 15, 7pm at the Emmanuel Centre, Battle: Cantabile Celebrate Christmas
December 17, 3pm in the upstairs cafe at the White Rock Theatre: Festive Fun, mince pies and Cantabile Singing Christmas.
Photo: David Hance