Our first concert after 20 months of enforced silence was certainly the joyous and emotional return to singing that Howard Ionascu, Exeter Philharmonic Choir ’s musical director, had planned. It was wonderful to be back on the stage in the nave of Exeter Cathedral, a place we have all missed so much during the long months of the pandemic. A large and enthusiastic audience gave the choir, soloists and orchestra a warm and appreciative reception. Many people said afterwards how much they had enjoyed the opportunity to hear live choral music once again. Howard chose the Fauré Requiem, a choral work much loved for its great beauty, as the focus for the choir’s return. Before that, the European theme of the first half of the concert, sung in French, Russian, German and Latin, showcased shorter pieces of music in a variety of styles. We were joined by two wonderful young professional soloists, Lucy Cronin and James Geidt, and accompanied by Devon Amici, an ensemble from across the South West, whose playing perfectly complemented the singing. Our attention now turns to preparations for our two regular evenings of Carols in the Cathedral, on Tuesday 14 and Wednesday 15 December. We look forward to an enjoyable programme of audience and choir carols, with local youth choir Isca Voices appearing as special guests.
Songs of the Soul along St Michael's Way
Date Posted: Mon, 27 Sep 2021
Songs of the Soul along St Michael’s Way Members of Exeter Philharmonic Choir and friends received a very warm welcome in Cornwall over the weekend of 24 to 26 September as they walked the ancient pilgrimage route of St Michael’s Way, singing as they journeyed. The singers, who had renamed themselves as the Pilgrims’ Chorus, gave three short concerts, at St Uny’s Church in Lelant, St Paul’s Church in Ludgvan and, at journey’s end, in the Castle Chapel at St Michael’s Mount. Stephen Tanner, EPC’s associate director of music, conducted an eclectic programme featuring Monteverdi, Palestrina, Bruckner and Haydn, alongside madrigals, folk songs and traditional spirituals arranged by the Soweto Gospel Choir. It was a privilege for the Pilgrims’ Chorus to perform the première of Stephen Tanner’s most recent composition, a setting of Ave Verum Corpus, as well as to sing a work by the choir’s former director of music, Andrew Millington, entitled Give me my Scallop Shell, an arrangement of words from Sir Walter Raleigh’s The Passionate Man’s Pilgrimage. The walking was as wonderful as the singing, along varied paths, through contrasting landscapes. Mist obscured the panoramic view from the highest point, the Iron Age hill fort on Trencrom Hill. But, as the walkers descended, St Michael’s Mount came into view, as well as the tower of St Paul’s Church, Ludgvan. And on the final day the sun shone, lighting the walkers’ path along the causeway and up to the Castle Chapel, where the Pilgrims’ Chorus gave its final performance, ending with Parry’s moving settting of Tennyson’s Crossing the Bar.