Three Choirs Festival performs at Buckingham Palace

[PHOTO: PAUL BURNS]

The tercentenary celebrations for the Three Choirs Festival concluded on Tuesday 24 November with a gala performance in the Ballroom of Buckingham Palace, attended by HRH The Prince of Wales, President of the Three Choirs Festival.

A massed choir of almost 300 singers including the Three Cathedral Choirs of Hereford, Gloucester and Worcester, the Three Choirs Festival Chorus and the Three Choirs Festival Youth Choir gave an hour-long recital for The Prince of  Wales and invited guests, who were welcomed by Dr Timothy Brain, OBE, QPM, Chairman of the Three Choirs Festival Association.  After the performance His Royal Highness met some of the performers, including cathedral choristers and members of the youth choir and festival chorus.

The festival’s three Artistic Directors, Geraint Bowen (Hereford), Adrian Partington (Gloucester) and Dr Peter Nardone (Worcester) each conducted part of the programme, which was accompanied on the historic pipe organ of Buckingham Palace Ballroom by the Assistant Organists of the three cathedrals, Peter Dyke (Hereford), Jonathan Hope (Gloucester) and Christopher Allsop (Worcester). Students from the brass department of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama – three trumpeters and three trombonists – also participated in the performance. 

The Three Cathedral Choirs conducted by Peter Nardone performed ‘Psalm’, a movement from the oratorio A Foreign Field by the German composer Torsten Rasch, which was commissioned for the 2014 Worcester Three Choirs Festival and Städtische Theater Chemnitz, Erich-Schellhorn Stifting as part of 14-18 Now, WW1 Centenary Arts Commissions, supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Earlier this year the work received its German premiere in Chemnitz. The composer Torsten Rasch was present at the Buckingham Palace concert.

Baritone Roderick Williams, who has a close association with the Three Choirs Festival, was the vocal soloist in a section from the end of Part I of The Dream of Gerontius by Edward Elgar, who was born in Worcester and as a young man played the violin in the orchestra for the Three Choirs Festival. Many of his works have been played at the festival and The Dream of Gerontius is a particular favourite of both audiences and performers, usually included in the programme in alternate years. 

The Buckingham Palace concert included some of the most inspiring works from the festival’s venerable history, many of them with royal associations, such as Handel’s Zadok the Priest which was first performed at the Coronation of George II in 1727 and Parry’s I Was Glad, commissioned for the Coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in 1902. HRH The Prince of Wales has a particular affection for the music of Parry, acknowledged by the inclusion of his motet ‘My soul, there is a country’ sung by the Three Cathedral Choirs. Music by Purcell, Vaughan Williams, and the contemporary composer John Rutter was also included in the recital.

 

The event was generously supported by the Three Choirs Foundation.