I attended a wonderful concert in St James’ Church, Clacton-on-Sea last night, as performed by the Clacton Choral Society with Bev Lockyer (Soprano), Janet Bullard (Contralto), Paul Bloomfield (Tenor), Tom Cogan (Bass), Stephen Smith (Organ and Grand Piano).
Music Director: Gillian Dulieu
The Bach pieces (I love Bach) were beautifully sung, including the flute-accompanied ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring’ and also Paul Siddall playing the famous Toccata and Fugue on the church organ. The organ – as we were warned at the beginning of the concert – had just developed faults but the performance was brilliantly inspiring, despite appearing to be a heroic struggle with the stops, but you wouldn’t have noticed when judged solely by the pure auditory experience itself.
Beethoven’s Mass in C (not so famous as his Missa Solemnis) was also beautifully sung. And it turned out to be an added special experience for me that will remain memorable forever. Despite being someone who loves obsessively all forms of ‘classical music’ modern and old, I know nothing about music technically. But I had been preparing myself, over the last few months, by listening to the Mass in C several times. I find such a process later enhances my appreciation of what any live experience of music may offer.
In the above light, I need to report that the organ finally gave up the ghost after the Kyrie – and, with great adaptability of all concerned, the accompaniment by the organist was transferred to a grand piano. This, for me, fortuitously made the work’s performance even more revelatory. I have often appreciated choral work when performed with a piano, such as the CD recordings I have of Rossini’s ‘Petit Messe Solennelle’ and Dvorak’s ‘Stabat Mater’, so I may be biased, but some others in the audience seemed to feel the same way after the end of the concert.
Although I sympathise with the suddenly problematic church-organ and with the other trials and tribulations stemming from the earlier bad weather postponement of this concert, the whole cast deserve much admiration for their bravery, adaptability and, above all, a very enjoyable performance.