TAL festival coverage in the Thame Gazette, Oct 24, 2014 added 09/03/2015

Choir mark anniversary with concert

Thame Chamber Choir held a concert to mark the hundreth anniversary of the start of the First World War.

The evening at St Mary's Church, was entitled 'Never such innocence again: Looking back: 100 years ago in Thame' and featured music and readings related to the war.

It included poetry read by A touch of Frost actor Bruce Alexander.

The choir performed music by composers including Elgar, Gurney, Ireland, Parry and Vaughn Williams.

This was interspersed by readings, one of which was an anonymous poem published in the Thame Gazette in 1917 entitled 'A dying soldier's thoughts of home'.

One particularly moving moment during the evening was when the names of those from Thame who lost their lives during the war, were read out while the choir hummed 'Abide with me'.

The audience also joined in war songs including 'It's a long way to Tipperary' and 'If you were the only girl in the world'.

Audience members described it as 'one of the best concerts the group had ever done'.

Oxford Times, March 2007 added 09/03/2015

ST MARY'S CHURCH, THAME, 10th MAR 2007

Rossini: Ave Maria, Petite Messe Solonnelle

Described by Rossini as one of the “sins of my old age” the Petite Messe Solonnelle is an enduring favourite in the concert repertoire, flamboyant and witty. Following the stylishly phrased Ave Maria, the choir were joined for the Mass by four opera students, past and present, from the Royal Academy of Music: Rebecca Lodge (soprano), Anna Graca (contralto), Robert Lomax (tenor) and Christopher Dixon (bass). The rather unorthodox accompaniment was provided by Alistair Ross, who miraculously made the electronic organ sound uncannily like the harmonium Rossini stipulated, and Judy Thompson on piano.

The choir began the Kyrie confidently, showing a vast dynamic range, and impeccable ensemble and intonation in the “archaic style” Christe. They took a back seat for most of the Gloria as the soloists came to the fore. The lower three voices blended beautifully in the Gratias, each relishing the virtuosic lines as well as producing some beautiful quieter colours.

Despite his comparative inexperience, Lomax rendered the Domine Deus with all the drama and passion of an operatic aria and with compelling pianos whilst in their Qui tollis duet Lodge and Graca’s experience of the stage was apparent. Dixon’s Quoniam was the real tour de force: imposing presence, confident delivery and visible enjoyment. The rumbustuous chorus Cum Sancto seemed a touch conservative in speed, but was delivered with such panache and style that we were swaying in the aisles even before our interval drinks!

Dramatic outbursts of “Credo” combined with wonderful intense legato singing in the next movement. After a moving Crucifixus soprano solo, the dramatic beginning of Et resurrexit was less convincing, although the Et vitam fugue had a suave poise with plenty of light. A faultless a cappella Sanctus and Benedictus showed how much the choir has benefited from Aspden’s choir training skills. The soprano solo O salutaris had lots of contrast in tone and colour, and the final Agnus Dei combined wonderfully expressive and impassioned singing from Graca with superb balance and sensitivity from the choir. Congratulations to all on a thoroughly enjoyable concert.