When it was first mentioned that Highworth Choral Society would be tackling the Brahms Requiem for the Spring Concert, there were murmurs of approval, mixed with concerns that it would be too much of a challenge for us. Nevertheless, rehearsals commenced in January and very quickly members realised what a fantastic work it was and rose to the challenge of rehearsals, and of learning those tricky bits, of which there seemed to be a plentiful supply in all parts.
Final rehearsals seemed to come around very quickly and we started rehearsing with 4 hands at the piano, a massive undertaking for our pianists Chris Williams and Frances Couldridge but one that added a new dynamic to our singing and spurred us on even more to ensure we gave a good performance on the night.
Prior to the concert itself, we took delivery of a magnificent grand piano, hired especially for the occasion, one used the previous weekend by Jamie Cullen, apparently! The sound it produced was incredible and provided the choir with all the support it needed…and more! This concert also signalled a change of dress, the ladies for the first time wearing all black, sporting red flowers kindly made for us by member Chris Bartle.
We quickly relaxed into our singing and any potential pitfalls passed uneventfully. By the end of the concert we all felt we had risen to the occasion of a great work, and were able to leave with a huge sense of satisfaction and achievement. In addition to the choral preparation we had the priviledge of having two soloists, Iain Duffin and our own Sarah Cantwell who both performed magnificently, handling the very testing solo lines with accuracy, strength and above all, the right level of sensitivity that this work requires. The audience were very appreciative in their feedback, commenting amongst other things that it was a very moving performance, stunning and absolutely fabulous as well as comments about how smart we looked as a choir.
With many thanks to Mike Avery, our musical director, without whom we would never have been able to learn the piece. Many thanks and appreciation must also go to our pianists Chris and Frances for their many hours spent at the piano and to our soloists for their contributions. It is a concert with will definitely live long in the memories of those who took part