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Friends of St Mary's Winkfield
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The Music and Merriment concert, 7 December 2019 in St Mary's church, Winkfield.
Concert programme handout
The 2019 Music and Merriment concert took place on Saturday 7 December, and was a great success. We received some enthusiastic comments afterwards, of which the following are typical:
- "It was a lovely event with so much talent and so many inspirational performances."
- "My family had a wonderful festive evening on Saturday."
The concert started with the traditional children’s choir, processing up the darkened church with their glowsticks to light their way to the chancel steps, and it ended with a rousing rendition of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus, sung by our adult choir and friends, 27 singers in total - under the direction of Jonathan Holl, and with John Halsey at the organ.
The adult choir also performed two groups of carol settings, including Jonathan’s own charming setting of ‘Away in a manger … ‘, and Anthony Hodson’s ‘Rejoice, rejoice’ setting words by his father (whose ashes are interred in St Mary’s graveyard). This was the latter’s first public performance – and Anthony was pleased to be among the singers.
The children’s choir performed beautifully, starting with the jazzy 'Something special is happening in the stable tonight', and, later in the concert, they brought the ‘Teddy Bear’s Picnic’ to life under the baton of John Kimbell, with Anthony Hodson on his bassoon. The children's pieces were all accompanied by Su Mei Kong, a first-rate musician who can cope with anything!
Su Mei had other key roles, expertly accompanying our two young soloists. Oboist Matthew (aged 11) was on first, with the Poulenc Sonata, with its changing moods, from intensely lyrical to agitated concentration; he followed this with a fast and virtuosic Baroque concert movement, which demonstrated a high level of control over a difficult instrument.)
The second soloist was Tansy Adam, 17, who charmed the audience with two beautiful modern carols, Poston’s haunting 'Jesus Christ the Apple Tree' and Michael Head’s well-known 'The little road to Bethlehem'. Tansy’s mezzosoprano is really beautiful, and we had an additional treat whenever Su Mei added her soprano in an upper part for ‘The little road … ‘: a lovely blend of the two voices. Tansy hopes for a musical career, and has the talent – we wish her all success.
Our young musicians provide their very important contribution to the Concert free of charge, and we are always delighted to have rising stars to perform for us with such amazing skill.
For the third year, we had the expert 5T Brass quintet at the centre of our concert. They provided two short recitals that showed off the hugely accomplished musical talent of its players, three of which are retired professional army musicians. Their tuba-playing leader, Len Tyler, also provided new Christmas Carol settings for the 5Ts to perform, and they also shared the leading of the audience carols with the organist.
The St Mary’s Handbells closed the first half of the concert with settings of two carols and the spiritual-based 'All night, all day' – a popular performance that showed how the player gain in confidence and skill year by year.
Following the Handbells was the interval with its ever popular distribution of mulled wine to wash down the St Mary’s Women's Guild mince pies – provided by them at these concerts year after year. We have all been saddened in recent weeks by the deaths of two senior members on the Women’s Guild, Jane Cullen and Mary Knight, who together brought a unique sense of community to our church that has been active over many years.
The concert has always enjoyed readings dotted through the programme, some humorous, some poignant, but often bringing a different and entertaining perspective to our Christmas Season enjoyment. Among these entertainments this year was the hilarious 'Nativity Play’ – trials and tribulations of very young performers and their parents, wittily brought to life by Sue and Tony Bish with Marian Stevens. Later on John and Caroline Kimbell brought street-music rap, tamed, in the form of the entertaining 'Rapping Paper – a Christmas Rap'.
Our readings, unfortunately, highlight a major issue in bringing concerts alive in St Mary’s church: the public address system is just not up to the standard that we would like. And this reminds us that the Music and Merriment concerts are community events, and also that the Friends of St Mary’s Winkfield are active fund-raisers to preserve the church as a community asset.
Funds raised by the concert go to projects associated with St Mary’s church’s community role, and the Friends’ next project is the Electrics. This project will not only cover replacement of the ageing lighting and electrical power systems, but also the provision of high quality microphones and other PA items. That will help all aspects of the Concert to be enjoyed, wherever they are in the church, and will very directly contribute to other church activities.
Please therefore support our fund-raising at the very least by supporting our fund-raising events. Please consider being even more proactive by joining the Friends, and, if you can, by taking part in the running of our events. Email us at email@example.com for more details about how you can help.
Anthony Hodson, Director Music and Merriment
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