David Willcocks, celebrating his 90th birthday, conducted Mayfield Festival Choir in Faure’s Requiem.
||Sir David Willcocks conductor
Fauré:RequiemGraham Caldbeck conductor
Gounod: Messe Solennelle
Fauré: Cantique de Jean Racine
with London Primavera (Paul Manley director).
Mayfield Festival welcomes back Sir David Willcocks The church of St Dunstan’s in Mayfield was full to capacity on Sunday 9th May for the final concert of the biennial Festival of Music and the Arts. It was a popular programme featuring a French double bill comprising works by Gounod and Fauré. In the first half we heard Cantique de Jean Racine, Pavane and Messe Solennelle de Sainte Cecile conducted by Graham Caldbeck and accompanied by the London Primavera orchestra with Andrew Benians, organ. Mayfield was fortunate in having access to 3 outstanding young soloists from the Royal Academy of Music – Mary Bevan, soprano, Peter Davoren, tenor and Gareth John, bass. All excelled in their individual solos and showed great promise for their future careers.
After the interval the audience rose to their feet to welcome Sir David Willcocks with a standing ovation – a rare occurrence before a performance has started! Now in his 91st year he is surely the ’doyen’ of choral conductors and he had returned to Mayfield, with whom he has had along association, to conduct the Faure Requiem, one of his favourite works.
The Festival choir, under Sir David’s immaculate guidance showed a full range of colour and dynamics – illustrating their growing competence and confidence.
Maxen Lambert, the 11 year old treble, sang his solo beautifully from the pulpit and the bass, Gareth John, who distinguished himself earlier in the festival with the chamber choir Tenebrae, demonstrated a well focused and warm baritone.
This was a wonderful climax to a festival which has been both ambitious and exciting in its content. It was a happy evening of splendid music, enriched by the musical wisdom of a man whose distinguished career has long been at the centre of British 20th century choral music.