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Concert to mark the 90th birthday of the Queen

A large number of people gathered in St Paul’s on Wednesday, 8th June to enjoy an excellent lunch prepared and served by the ladies of the church catering team.   Amid the floral and royal memorabilia displays, everyone settled down to enjoy a concert of seasonal and patriotic music given by soprano Avelina Wright and St Paul’s Music Director, Charles Edmondson.

Accompanied by Charles playing the organ, Ms Wright opened the concert with an aria, Let the Bright Seraphim, from Georg Friedrich Handel’s oratorio Samson.  This was sung at the wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson and following on with another royal connection, Charles crossed to the keyboard to accompany Avelina singing Come, Come, ye sons of Art, come, come away.  This seventeenth century aria was composed by Henry Purcell for the birthday of Queen Mary II in 1694.

The next three songs were introduced by Avelina who explained the story behind each piece with each song having an appropriate floral theme.  With Charles on the piano we heard Avelina singing Spring, To Joy and The Violet, all composed by Mozart.

Time for a solo from Charles who returned to the organ and gave us a very loud, spirited  and majestic Intrada by Grayston Ives.  This piece was especially written for the Queen’s Silver Jubliee Thanksgiving Service in St Paul’s Cathedral on the 7th June 1977.

Continuing with the floral theme, Avelina sang two songs by Gabriel Fauré, Mai and Le Secret with Charles accompanying her on the piano.

At our last concert in April, Charles played for us March and April from Peter Tchaikovsky’s The Seasons on the piano, so it was now time to hear May (Starlit nights) and June (A Barcarolle) which fitted in with our theme beautifully.

Following this Charles went back to the keyboard to play the baroque accompaniment for Avelina who sang two bucolic songs by Thomas Arne, When Daisies Pied and Violets Blue  (The Cuckoo song) and Where the bee sucks, there lurk I.  Both very familiar songs to us all and delightfully sung by our visiting soprano.

We then heard Charles, back at the organ, play the very well-known Coronation March from Crown Imperial composed by William Walton in 1937 and this piece marked the start of our very rousing finale, with all present joining in the singing of Jerusalem, words by William Blake, music by Hubert Parry.  This was followed by Avelina singing the introduction to There’ll Always be an England with everyone joining in the chorus and waving their flags frantically and finally we all sang Rule Britannia which brought the occasion to a fitting end. 

Nick thanked Avelina and Charles for their excellent concert and flowers were presented to Avelina and Jane, the page-turner.  What a wonderful couple of hours had been enjoyed by all.  It was obvious that Charles had put a great deal of thought into the planning of the programme and it certainly did fit the occasion perfectly.  Our next lunchtime concert will take place on the 10th August when Charles will be introducing us to organist Nigel Duce.  Look out for further details nearer the time.