The now traditional Music for Remembrance concert was given this year by members of staff, with an introduction by the Brass Ensemble under the baton of Mr Dave Eaglestone.
Their performance of Purcell’s Music for Funeral of Queen Mary II set a sombre and reflective tone for the evening, which featured an emotive selection of personal readings interspersed with pieces of music. Framing the readings were Siegfried Sassoon’s Attack, read by Reverend Jacob Harrison, and Hedd Wynn’s Rhyfel (War), read in Welsh by Mr Rhys Williams. These two accounts lament the violence and destruction of War, and humanity’s collective loss of faith, but were counter-balanced by a transcendental account of Ralph Vaughan-Williams’ The Lark Ascending, performed with great elegance by Mr Kevin Weaver (violin). The (soon-to-be shattered) pastoral idyll conjured by the soaring solo violin line, and then the eloquent beauty and simplicity of Mrs Ruth Williams’ performance of Fauré’s Morceau de Concours allowed intense accounts of Duruflé’s Pié Jesu, Rachmaninov’s Vocalise, and Massenet’s Élégie by Miss Chloë Allison (mezzo soprano) and Mrs Jenny Janse (cello) to have even more of an emotional impact, their white-hot intensity ever-present. Miss Natalie Davison’s bittersweet account of Emily Brontë’s Remembrance brought a woman’s perspective to the theme of loss and grief, and Mr Richard Saxel’s performance of Frank Bridge’s At Dawn highlighted the physical cost of war; a piano solo written for the left hand alone for a pianist who lost an arm fighting in the trenches.
The undoubted highlights were two intensely personal accounts; Mr Mark Weighton reading a re-working of Psalm 23 by his grandfather, who in 2020 was the oldest man in the world for 56 days, and Mr Phil Leamon reading a personal account by his 19-year-old great-grandfather, torpedoed at sea and presumed lost, and his fight for survival in the North Sea. As Elgar’s Nimrod closed the occasion; Mr Philip Scriven providing a sense of hope to end this emotive concert, the power of words and music was apparent to all, and the beautiful candlelit Chapel, complete with CCF standard laid to rest on the altar, providing the most contemplative of settings.