Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Priestly Contribution to the Cultural Life in Redhill

L-R: Robert Munns, accompanist and Fr Charles Howell
Fr Charles Howell, priest of the parish of the Nativity of the Lord and based in Merstham, together with his teacher and accompanist Robert Munns (who is also on the staff of St John's Seminary, Wonersh) gave a lunchtime recital at St. Matthew's Anglican Church in Redhill. The programme was a balanced mixture of sacred and secular pieces ranging from 17th century composers Bach and Handel to those of the present day.

Appropriate for 'Remembrancetide' we heard the call to war "Arm, Arm, ye brave!" from Judas Maccabaeus and later the reminder of the consequences in "Severn Meadows" Ivor Gurney's setting of his own poem, written in the trenches during WW1, longing for his beloved countryside. Shakespeare's "Come away Death" came in two contrasting styles, that of Gerald Finze and Roger Quilter.

From Mendelssohn we heard Elijah calling on "Lord God of Abraham, Issac and Israel" in his confrontation with the priests of Baal. Perhaps less well known were some of the English Songs. "The Infinite Shining Heavens" ( Songs of Travel: Vaughan Williams/Robert Louis Stevenson) was especially evocative since Fr Charles has a special interest in astronomy.

The programme began with part of Bach's "Magnificat" and ended with "a lot of boisterous nonsence about the death of a robin" - "Cocky Robin" by Betty Roe. The whole event could be summed up as 'Magnifique'!

The size of the audience certainly was greater than the organisers' anticipated - they had printed 45 programmes but ran out well before everyone arrived!

Text and photo Ann Lardeur

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