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Our Christmas concerts are always well supported and 2014 was no exception, with not a ticket to be had for the Friday night, and a well-filled Holy Trinity Church, Minchinhampton on Saturday too. To grab the audience's attention we began unusually with an audience carol, the jubilant Sing Aloud On This Day, followed by Vaughan Williams' joyful anthem Let All The World In Every Corner Sing. In telling contrast was the sad, 16th century Coventry Carol, rapidly followed by Karl Jenkins' popular Adiemus and a real audience-pleaser: the catchy Schneewaltzer.
The second half saw one of the most atmospheric openings we have ever staged, with the first verse of Silent Night being sung by the men in German at the back of the darkened church, beginning the first of three songs commemorating the centenary of WWI. A wonderfully poignant a capella arrangement of Keep The Home Fires Burning was followed by Barrie Cooper's beautiful setting of The Soldier, first heard last June. Never ones to short change an audience, there were twenty two songs in our programme, including three audience carols!
Unfortunately, due to illness Barrie was unable to accompany us for these concerts, but our assistant accompanist Steve Hoskin stepped in at short notice and thoroughly deserved both the choir and the audience's fulsome applause. As always, we were very happy to give donations to some very deserving local causes, and these concerts' beneficiaries were: Cotswold Care Hospice, The Coigne Nursery and Stroud Hospital League of Friends.
Squeezing our usual pair of June concerts in Minchinhampton into just one resulted in a Holy Trinity Church jam packed with an audience determined to enjoy itself. The evening got off to a rousing start with the spiritual Soon-ah will be done followed by a rafter-raising rendition of Zadok the priest. Performances of Nellie the elephant and The teddy bears' picnic provided light relief, whilst the choir's language skills were on display as we tackled the Welsh classic Diolch I'r Ior. As always, the programme featured our trademark eclectic mix of styles.
For many the highlight of the night was a superb new song, especially written by our accompanist Barrie Cooper to commemorate the centenary of the start of WWI. The soldier is a setting of Rupert Brooke's famous poem, which Barrie has clothed in music of sensitivity and serenity. Each half of the concert finished with a medley of songs: Sounds of Simon and Garfunkel and five numbers form Jesus Christ Superstar.
It was a pleasure for us to welcome Holy Trinity's new rector, Helen Bailey, to the first of what we hope will be many Stuart Singers' concerts. As always, we were delighted to be able to donate money to some deserving local causes, and this summer's beneficiaries were: Allsorts, Home Start and Maggie's.
The evening over, we dismantled the staging, had a good night's sleep, and sang the whole programme again the next evening at St Mary's church in Tetbury!
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