I understand why FCS decided to postpone the Missa de Purificationis by Zelenka which had been scheduled – in a bid to reduce the loss that would be incurred by having the likelihood of having a reduced audience; and I look forward to hearing it again in the near future. Replacing it with three of Handel’s Coronation Anthems gave the choir a bit more time in rehearsal, and this paid off with exhilarating performances. Following these, the choir was joining by a powerful pair of soloists, in Phil Clieve and Armand Rabot, who were at home in the operatic lyricism of Puccini’s Messa di Gloria. I know it is one of David Holroyd’s favourite, and it is all too rarely performed elsewhere, but this was the second time I have managed to hear it this month. While the soloists have some wonderful moments, the big choral movements, particularly those at the end of the Gloria and the Credo are a real tour de force, and the Choir sang them with panache and enthusiasm, and I loved it!MC
Carols with Brass – it wouldn’t have been the same without Formby Band. For starters it would have been Carols withOUT Brass – and having missed it dreadfully last year – it was so good that FCS could manage to put this together. It felt so good to have the Choral Society and the Band together in Holy Trinity.MC
The audience were given the words of the traditional carols, but there was a reluctance to join in the singing, probably because we were still constrained behind the wretched face covers. But I bet next year we will raise the roof when we get to “O come all ye faithful”.
What a joy it was to see Formby Choral Society back in action! You could have been forgiven for thinking that this first concert since December 2019 might have been a bit shabby. After all, the choir had not been able to meet in person since early March 2020 – and although I believe the ZoomAlong sessions were a great way of keeping in touch with one another, while doing some singing in the privacy of the bedroom, sitting room, dining room … wherever! – it wasn’t the same thing as doing it for real.MC
So I know it was a great relief to be able rehearse again back in September.
The concert for this new beginning was, perhaps appropriately, the same piece that FCS performed at the very first concert ever in 1966 – Vivaldi’s Gloria. Always a popular choice with choirs and audiences, so a good start! Mozart’s lively Coronation Mass formed the second part of the concert, preceded by three movements from his Solemn Vespers. As well as seeing hearing a well-polished and thoroughly rehearsed choir … just like the old days … it was great to see four of the Choral Society’s regular soloists back in action – and nothing had changed here either, they were all in fine voice: Barbara Ruzsics, Joyce Tindsley, Phil Clieve and Stuart O’Hara.
Jon Barton clearly hasn’t let his fingers get rusty, and equally David Holroyd hadn’t lost any of his enthusiastic energy, and as ever demanding the best of his singers – and got it.
All that being said, it was a little sad the choir was a bit fewer in number – but I suspect more singers will return as they find their confidence in venturing out into the new normal.