The evening of Good Friday saw a concert of Motets and Faure’s Requiem by the Southwark Cathedral Girl’s Choir under the direction of Stephen Disley.
The concert – really a meditation – started with Quatre Motets pour le Temps de Penitence (Four Motets for the time of Penitence) by Francis Poulenc (1899 – 1963). The text for these pieces comes from the offices for Holy Week. All with the later pieces in the programme the girls sang these unaccompanied (except the final two pieces), in conjunction with the Cathedral Lay Clerks. Lily Blackmore sang the solo in Tristis est anima mea (My spirit is laden with sorrow), adding her clear tone to the words of the Matins Responsory for Maundy Thursday.
There followed a series six unaccompanied pieces, starting with two by Thomas Tallis (1505 – 1585) – If ye Love Me and Salvator Mundi, followed by Hide not Thou thy Face – Richard Farrant (before 1535 – 1580); Crucifixus – Lotti (1667 – 1740); Drop, drop slow tears – Orlando Gibbons (1583 – 1625); and Miserere Mei – William Byrd (1540 – 1623). As with the Poulenc that opened the concert, Stephen Disley had chooled the choir well and the pitch remained stable throughout each of these short pieces.
For Ave Verum – Colin Mawby (b. 1936) – the accompaniment was provided by the Southwark Cathedral Director of Music on the organ.
For the final work of the evening Requiem by Gabriel Fauré (1845 – 1924), the choir was joined by the Chameleon Arts Orchestra and the Peter Wright on the Organ. The Baritone solos in Offertorium and Libera Me were sung by Stephen Roberts whose tone blended well with the girls. The girls sang the Requiem with a clear tone which came to a climax during the In Paradisum, with excellent balance from the Lay Clerks in the four part sections.
All in all the programme was well suited to Good Friday evening, and under the direction of Stephen Disley the choir gave a performance that all involved could be proud of.
The whole atmosphere of Good Friday can be difficult to explain. Be it a Three Hour Devotional Service or listening to a collection of music from across the centuries there is something to be found.
He has Died, but He will Rise Again