The other day I was at an inspirational concert in a village church in Warwickshire, Hatton Church, listening to a small choir called Amici sing a mixture of early music and contemporary music.
They sang a capella music by such composers as William Byrd, Orlando Gibbons and Ralph Vaughan Williams. On one occasion the conductor pointed out that five hundred years separated the composers of the two pieces they were about to sing.
The loveliest pieces I heard were Alleluia, I heard a voice by Thomas Weelkes (1576-1623); A Spotless Rose by Paul Mealor (b. 1975); Hail Gladdening Light by Charles Wood (1866-1926), Northern Lights by Ola Gjeilo (b. 1978) and Lux Aurumque by Eric Whitacre (b. 1970).
As I listened to the glorious harmonies that the singers created I found myself gazing up to the stained glass windows high above the altar. Listening to music like this is like a portal into another world, a higher spiritual dimension, opened up by the singers who produce those exquisite sounds.
On Saturday night 7 December 2013 our local community choir, Songlines, conducted by Bruce Knight, gave a concert at St Mary’s Church, in Leamington Spa, to raise money for Water Aid.
It was a night where we saw and felt the power of music to bring joy and to uplift.
A standing ovation and calls for an encore confirmed this.
Our programme encompassed community choir arrangements of the moving Zulu song Egalile, full of exhuberant synchronized movements, including our well-rehearsed African shuffle; Let the River Run by Carly Simon, Sunday Morning by Reed & Cale, arr.Knight; the Beatles’ song Nowhere Man; Wake Up by Nick Prater arr. Ali Orbaum, and the Samoan song Fa’afetai i le Atua arr. Tony Backhouse.
A smaller group called Extra-stronglines also sang the gorgeous harmonies of the Beatles’ song Because.
A highlight was a performance of the South African National anthem Nkosi Sikeleli’l Afrika in tribute to the recent passing of Nelson Mandela.
And at the end, we walked off the stage, singing Love is like a river, let it flow, let it flow, let it flow.
Long may we celebrate the gift of music in our lives.