Supporting music at the cathedral

Philip Montgomery-Smith with Roger Bush, Dean of Truro Cathedral

Philip Montgomery-Smith with Roger Bush,
Dean of Truro

Truro Cathedral is well known for promoting choral concerts, but on 15th July, Truro Symphony Orchestra, with its players donating their services for free and Truro Choral Society providing practical support, staged a concert in support of music at Truro Cathedral.

The programme included Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, with audience members creating the sound of cannon fire with pre-distributed paper bags that they “exploded” on cue. This was followed, in complete contrast, by Vaughan Williams’s beautiful and tranquil The Lark Ascending, with orchestra leader Philip Montgomery-Smith as soloist. Another of Tchaikovsky’s popular works, the Fifth Symphony, brought the concert to a resounding and exuberant conclusion.

The evening raised £2,500 and the cheque for the amount was received on behalf of the cathedral by the Dean of Truro, The Very Rev’d Roger Bush. The Dean said, “Not only was this a stunning orchestral concert by some very talented players, it was also an immensely generous thing to do to help raise funds to support the music at the cathedral.”

Montgomery-Smith said, “We are delighted that we managed to raise so much for such a worthy cause. Truro Cathedral has an enviable reputation for its worship and music and is one of the most iconic venues in the county. We wanted to say a little thank you to the cathedral for all that it does to promote music for adults and children alike.”

The Dean also thanked the members of Truro Choral Society who gave their time and energy to ensure the successful project came to fruition.

A warm welcome to Will

2BB4613B-E0A4-4AF4-8683-0329BF760678Our new accompanist for season 2017-18 is Will Fairbairn, whose tenure as organ scholar at Truro Cathedral started in September.

Will read music and was the organ scholar at St Catharine’s College Cambridge. While there, he played under Edward Wickham for both the College Choir and the Girls’ Choir, accompanying them in their weekly round of services as well as for radio broadcasts, recordings and tours across Europe and the Far East.

In his third year, he was also the repetiteur for Cambridge University Musical Society Chorus, playing under Stephen Cleobury, which included accompanying their tour to Rome.

Before taking up his scholarship at Truro Cathedral – and his seat at our rehearsals – he had just finished working in the music department at Sevenoaks School, while also holding the organ scholarship at All Saints’ Fulham, in southwest London.

We can’t wait to see how the year unfolds with Will at the piano – and harpsichord and organ!

A year in review: season 2016-17

Martin Palmer with Käthe Wright Kaufman

Martin Palmer with Käthe Wright Kaufman

As TCS chair, Colin Scofield, said at the AGM in July, what a fantastic season 2016-17 was, with four concerts and two wonderful seminars led in totally different styles but both so effectively by Russell Pascoe and Paul Drayton. We also welcomed Käthe Wright Kaufman as our accompanist, who our MD, Martin Palmer, described as, “A great asset, confidently taking rehearsals and gifted with the ability to mind read! I forecast she will go far.” As with our previous years’ accompanists, Käthe was the organ scholar at Truro Cathedral and, for 2017-18, we have been joined Will Fairbairn (for a short introduction to Will, please head here). We are so lucky to have the opportunity to engage such talented accompanists each year – they never fail to amaze and entertain.

Tony Mee performing Nessun Dorma

Anthony Mee performing Nessun Dorma

In precis, Martin described the season as “a very daring year”.
 It began with an Italianate concert in November 2016, with a programme that included Vivaldi Magnificat in G Minor and Concerto 576 (scored for this for violin, recorder and flute, oboe and bassoon), as well as Puccini Nessun Dorma – with soloist Anthony Mee stealing the show –
 and Messa di Gloria, which in Martin’s words was: “A crazy piece that TCS gave a great rendition of.”

Taking as inspiration the famous New Year’s Day concert at Vienna’s Musikverein, on 2 January 2017 we held our first New Year concert, with the Dean of Truro – Roger Bush – as MC. The evening’s programme included roof-raising performances of Handel Zadok the Priest and the Hallelujah chorus, Winter from Vivaldi The Four Seasons, with the hugely talented violinist Michael Foyle as soloist, along with Strauss Blue Danube and Waltz of the Flowers from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker performed by the always excellent Truro Symphony Orchestra – and not forgetting an all-congregation rendition of the Epiphany carol We Three Kings for regular TCS tenor soloist David Webb’s #CarolsforCancer appeal (view it on YouTube here). The concert was a resounding success and drew a huge audience.

Tenor soloist Nathan Vale with TCS

Tenor soloist Nathan Vale

For our concert on 11 March, it was Bach St Matthew Passion,
 a staging that required two choirs, two orchestras and a host of soloists. Many remarked, including the orchestra members, that it was one of our most powerful and moving concerts, particularly with international soloist Nathan Vale as our tenor soloist, described by Martin as, “out of this world”. In preparation for the concert we held a seminar on the work, led by Cornish composer Russell Pascoe, so that choir members and audience alike could learn more about the man and this masterpiece. Always happy to share his passion for Bach, Russell left everyone who attended looking forward to the forthcoming concert even more.

TCS with Three Spires Singers for Elijah

TCS with Three Spires Singers at rehearsal for Elijah

In May, the second seminar of the season was held in preparation for our joint concert of Mendelssohn Elijah with Three Spires Singers. This time, it was led by Paul Drayton, composer and conductor of Duchy Opera, among many other things. The morning included sessions about Mendelssohn and this mighty work and some singing. Of the concert itself, held in June and conducted by the MD of Three Spires and Director of Music at Truro Cathedral, Christopher Gray, Martin said: “I had heard Michael Edwards conduct Elijah eight years ago and thought it a great work for TCS – and it is always a joy to join with Three Spires and Chris Gray. The soloists were superb, particularly Lucy Wallis as The Boy and the girl choristers in ‘Lift Thine Eyes’. 
The choirs sounded marvellous but were eclipsed by the cello section, who were stupendous [ahem, see photograph below]!”
 This was the second time TCS and Three Spires had joined forces – the last time being for Elgar The Kingdom in 2014 – and it was again a great success and enjoyed by all involved. Mirroring the arrangement in 2014, the cathedral seating was turned around, so that the large joint choir and orchestra of 55 could be accommodated at the west door, with the audience heading “backwards” towards the altar. You can read Philip Buttall’s review of the concert in Seen and Heard International here.

Our year was rounded off with a lovely summer party, expertly organised as always by our social secretary, Dee, and held at Mylor Yacht Club. The outrageously beautiful sunset provided the perfect ending to a wonderful season.

The first TCS New Year Concert

The first TCS New Year Concert

MD Martin with bow in hand for Elijah rather than baton

MD Martin with bow in hand for Elijah rather than baton

The view from Mylor Yacht Club at the summer party

Mylor Yacht Harbour

TCS Chair Colin Scofield at the summer party

TCS Chair Colin Scofield at the summer party