The Lord is my Shepherd

2nd Mar 2024, 7:30pm
St John's Church, Newbury

Photo credit: Daniel Couchman

On Saturday, March 2nd, Newbury choral singers The Cecilia Consort will be heralding the approach of Spring with their concert at St John’s Church, Newbury.  The programme celebrates the work of three eminent English composers:  Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (who, although born in Dublin, spent most of his life in England), Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry and John Rutter CBE. 

2024 is the 100th anniversary of Stanford’s death and the choir will be marking the occasion by singing his joyful motet, Coelos ascendit hodie, the well-known Te Deum in B flat and his anthem The Lord is my Shepherd.

The choir will be performing all six of Parry’s ‘Songs of Farewell’.  These were written during the First World War when a number of his pupils at the Royal College of Music were being killed or wounded in action.  His choice of poignant texts reflect a yearning to escape the violence of war and to find peace in Heaven.

The highlight of the programme is Rutter’s Requiem which he completed in 1985, in memory of his father who had died the previous year.  The work presents Rutter at his best, containing instantly memorable tunes but with some beautiful quiet sections.  It also includes some wonderful cello solos and the choir are especially delighted to be joined by the accomplished and talented cellist, Charlotte Oates.

Doors will open in readiness for a 7.30pm start and tickets, priced at £15 for adults and £5 for under 18s, are available below. The Cecilia Consort, founded in 1990, is an auditioned chamber choir of some forty local singing enthusiasts  -  performing a minimum of two concerts a year, normally in March and November. 


Review by Nigel Winter

8th March 2024 Newbury Weekly News

The 23rd psalm, perhaps the best-known words in the Bible, became the foundation of a moving and well attended concert by the excellent Cecilia Consort.
2024 marks the centenary of Charles Stanford’s death and it was with three of his pieces that the evening began: a bright and stirring declaration of faith in the Te Deum, the joyful Coelis Ascendit Hodie and finally his dramatic setting of that famous psalm. The energetic “but thy loving kindness” section led us at last, gentle step by gentle step, to its calm and peaceful conclusion.
Ernest Moeran’s Prelude for piano and cello, a thoughtful and sensitive performance by Charlotte Oates and Steve Bowey, opened with a suggestion that we may still be in the surroundings of green pastures, but by the time this piece was written two world wars had happened and a haunting sense of loss pervades.
Hubert Parry’s Songs of Farewell were a delight, with careful attention given to dynamics and phrasing. The richness of Parry’s writing was given full expression by Janet Coxwell and the choir. Never, weather beaten sail spoke not just of farewell but also of accompanying calm, safety and, in the end, peace. It is no surprise to learn that Parry himself was an avid yachtsman.
John Rutter’s Requiem was a fitting and beautiful second half of this concert. Janet Coxwell’s soaring solo in Pie Jesu brought a moment of calm, but only after Charlotte Oates’ powerful cello accompaniment in Out of the Deep had unsettled us. The dramatic Sanctus again kept up the tension but, by the time the Agnus Dei and Lux Aeterna had passed, those disturbing seas in Out of The Deep were breaking gently and peacefully again in the wave-like Kyrie theme and we were led back to the still waters.
Uplifting and beautifully performed.
Well done Cecilia!