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.
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.
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.
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.