National Festival 2019

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National Festival 2019

A report from the Director, Christopher Gray, plus many photos of an enjoyable and memorable day.

I’ve been on the Cornwall area committee of the RSCM since moving to Truro in 2000 and have just taken part in my nineteenth Diocesan Choral Festival there, with singers coming together from across the county as they have done since 1889. In those nineteen years I’ve never experienced another area’s Festival, so when asked to direct the RSCM France National Festival, I jumped at the chance.

It was interesting to see how very similar the spirit of the occasion is in Paris and Truro. There is a sincerity and a dignity about the way people approach taking part, and the potential is there to create something much greater than the sum of the parts. Zachary Ullery, Canon for Music at the American Cathedral, could not have been more welcoming as we assembled over our first coffee of the morning at 9.30am on Saturday 12th October. I was slightly taken aback to see that our organist for the day was to be Andrew Dewar, Organist at the American Cathedral and one of the finest organists of his generation.

Talking to the singers at various points during the day, everyone had their own story about why they had chosen to take part in the Festival (in many cases travelling long distances to do so). The music had been expertly chosen by the Committee and we were able to make good progress, gradually developing ideas around posture, phrasing, diction, energy in the sound, and of course meaning. Evensong went very well indeed, and it’s remarkable that a disparate group could come together and hone their singing to produce a meaningful act of worship within a single day. It was an added pleasure to be able to present Shirley Rowson, Area Secretary, with Honorary Membership of the RSCM, in recognition of her work for RSCM France.

Hopefully everyone left, as I did, feeling enriched by the experience.

Christopher Gray