Summertime!

Sunday 9th July, saw Bath Camerata perform their last concert of the season, in the glorious (and very warm!) Banqueting Room at the Guildhall, Bath, with a programme filled with a variety of different music to suit all tastes; from folk songs to madrigals and Baroque counterpoint to jazz standards. The hall was bedecked with bunting, filled with flowers and our bar was well-stocked with Champagne ready for our concert goers. We even had hundreds of strawberries, for copious amounts of strawberries and cream…you couldn’t get more Summery and something had to fill the void of no Wimbledon!

The concert started with the wonderful, rousing anthem, O clap your hands by Orlando Gibbons which was composed for eight voices and which the choir sang in double-choir formation. Next up was a set of 5 English Folksongs by Ralph Vaughan Williams. As Ben said to the audience, folk songs appear to be about one of two things, falling in love and drinking. Or on occasion falling in love, whilst drunk! We adapted the final song of the five (Wassail Song), as it is normally sung at Christmas-time and so any mention to Christmas Pie was amended to Strawberry Pie (a little bit of subliminal messaging for the interval). These songs were followed by two short pieces, Before me, careless lying, by Herbert Howells, which was written in the style of a madrigal, but full of Twentieth century passion and the other being The Turtle Dove by Ralph Vaughan Williams, for choir and solo baritone, about a traveller bemoaning the loss of his love, whilst he’s destined to roam the earth. This song was incredibly apt, as we said farewell to one of our baritones, Sam (who sang the solo), who’s about to embark on post-graduate studies at the Guildhall School of Music, in London. We’ll certainly miss him and wish him well for the future. The first half finished with an exciting, energetic piece by Huw Watkins, a setting one of Shakespeare’s more obscure poems, The Phoenix and the Turtle, and then a glorious miniature by Healy Willan Rise up, my love, my fair using the words from the Old Testament’s Song of Solomon.

The hall was incredibly hot, so as we came off stage in the interval, the choir all crammed in to the “cold room”, to cool down. This proved to be a very popular room, with a few people taking the opportunity to get changed in it…not me, I hasten to add!

Once the audience were suitably topped up and had consumed as many strawberries as they could muster, the choir took to the stage again for the second half, this time the gentleman were sans jackets, to cool down…!

The second half was a much lighter affair, beginning with JS Bach’s Bourrée, in an arrangement by Ward Swingle, followed by two madrigals, the first being about a promiscuous shepherdess who enjoys meeting her lover (say no more!) and the other being April is in my mistress’ face. In the last section of the concert we turned our attention to jazz (nice!) with songs about love and happiness. We sang a setting of Love bade me welcome by Rodderick Williams, which was probably one of my highlights of the concert, as I think Roddy really captured the essence of the words so well in his composition, and with some glorious close harmonies. This was followed by his arrangement of Gershwin’s Summertime (from Porgy & Bess) with Catherine, one of our sopranos, soaring over the top of the choir with such ease.  The concert finished with three more popular songs including Tea for Two and ending with a fast-paced It don’t mean a thing (if it ain’t got that swing), which the audience loved judging by the prolonged applause and calls of “more!”

Whilst it may have been a very hot summer’s day, the whole concert was incredibly enjoyable and successful, with some lovely comments from the audience. It also marked the end of my first six months with the choir and I’m already looking forward to what’s coming up next.

As with most concerts, the choir had a well-earned drink(s) afterwards and this time we were treated to a BBQ at Alastair’s house, where left-over champagne and strawberries were also consumed! Hope you all have a restful summer and we will see you again in the autumn!

Phil Styles, Tenor