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April 2003

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How we came to perform a UK Premiere

An excerpt from the evening's programme
by Musical Director, Veronica Phillipson

The idea for this evening's concert came from one of my idle trawls through the CD collection in Duck, Son and Pinker.  In the days when D.S.and P. sold CDs, in this case two years ago, you could be assured of coming away with some unusual treasures and if you wanted information then the expertise on hand was formidably available!

Some of you will be familiar with the Congolese Misa Luba and the two Latin American works, Misa Flamenca and Misa Criolla. Imagine my delight to spot the Misa Cubana in the choral section between Verdi and Vivaldi.  The delight turned to astonishment when I played it and I knew that here was a work which would appeal to the choir and to our audiences.  Having missed out on an opportunity to perform Misa Criolla some eight years before, I was determined that this one would reach a performance.

However, I didn't have to worry, as the committee were hooked completely, particularly the Chairman in post, Mary Topping and our newly appointed Publicity Officer, Simon Apps.  All we had to go on was one CD and some rather scanty information on the cover but in time Simon had succeeded in contacting the publisher in Madrid and the composer in Havana.  The vocal scores arrived last July and were in single parts which was a nuisance to start with but ultimately has been beneficial as the singers have had to sharpen their aural wits!  The choir and soloists have also had to rise to the challenge of singing in Spanish.  To bring you this Misa Cubana in a UK and Europe premiere is an honour and a pleasure.

Choosing the three soloists was easy as I had all three voices in mind and I have to say how delighted the choir is to be singing with them.  Louise and Sharon Lloyd I have known for seven years and I know their voices well. Matthew Haynes was talent-spotted on a video recording of his own wedding.

Adrian Eales, The Wessex Sinfonia and I go back some time and this will be the fifth time that we have worked together.  It will be a wonderful opportunity to hear an orchestra of this calibre in Highworth.

So that took care of the main work.  Programming is rarely easy and often works are selected according to locations and budget. The idea to perform Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez was accepted readily and we are privileged to have as the guitar soloist, the internationally acclaimed Raymond Burley. The four spirituals make up the programme.

By the way, another little find of mine in D.S. and P. was a choral piece by the Swedish composer Hugo Alfven, [Swedish Rhapsody] entitled The Lord's Prayer and the text is ... Swedish. Now that would be a challenge!

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