August is usually the time of our annual summer break – a few weeks off from rehearsal and singing lessons, where we can all take the chance to relax before Christmas concert preparations start in the autumn. However, this year an opportunity presented itself that we couldn’t turn down…
The Thomas Hardy International Conference and Festival takes place in Dorchester, and welcomes attendees not only from all parts of the UK, but from Europe, Asia, Australia and North America. As well as academic talks, poetry readings and walks around Hardy Country, the festival features a programme of entertainment. We were invited to give a concert, loosely based around settings of poetry and folk song.
All the usual suspects for such a concert were there – Ralph Vaughan Williams’ ‘Dorset folk song’ Linden Lea, arranged for female choir; the Skye boat song; and Rachel Scivier’s emotional performance of ‘Her Song’, a setting of a Hardy poem. However there were also a few surprises, including comic relief provided by Gilbert and Sullivan’s Three Little Maids. The first half ended with the première of the SSAA arrangement of ‘Quanta Qualia’, the well-known piece by English composer Patrick Hawes.
Throughout the concert, piano accompaniment was provided by our new pianist, Celia Cologne. Celia gave a fantastic performance and we are all looking forward to working with her in the future. Steven Howard also provided flute embellishment on some songs.
Of course, being La Nova Singers, we couldn’t resist finishing with a dramatic flourish – the Easter Hymn from Pietro Mascagni’s opera ‘Cavalleria Rusticana’! Not a piece that is particularly associated with Thomas Hardy – but a spectacular end to an eclectic evening’s entertainment.