On Sunday October 18th the renowned Christminster Singers from Oxford will present a concert of West Gallery Music in St Augustine’s Church, East Hendred, at 7.30pm. The concert, which is raising much-needed funds for the church, will also include traditional folk tunes played by several of The Christminster Singers on concertina, fiddle, flute, clarinet and accordion.
West Gallery Music is the name given to the harmony singing tradition that flourished in rural country parishes in Thomas Hardy’s Wessex duringthe 18th and early 19th centuries, before the widespread introduction of organs to country churches. The singers were often accompanied on string and wind instruments.
The Christminster Singers are amongst the country’s leading exponents of this robust, vigorous style of singing. Their repertoire features material found in manuscript sources from Oxfordshire and Dorset, but also includes some secular and instrumental pieces from the classical and folk tradition. It is robust, uninhibited and exciting music with powerful harmonies – a thrilling, visceral sound.The choir chose Hardy’s name for Oxford – Christminster – as their own. The choir have performed at national festivals, most recently at the Oxford Folk Festival. They have appeared on BBC television and radio, and have taken their distinctive repertoire on tour to the Netherlands and the U. S. A. The concert will be led by Dave Townsend, who is a full time musician and singer, performing solo and with various groups including the Mellstock Band. The Christminster Singers have recorded two CDs and, in a review of their “William Knapp: West Gallery Anthems and Psalms”, Tony Singleton said: “I recommend you buy it; it is stirring stuff. Play it at full volume; it will raise some gooseflesh and set the spine tingling.”
Further information about the Christminster Singers can be found at www.christminster-singers.org.uk
Tickets for the concert (£8) are available from Jackie Francis (01235 833473) or on the door. You can also book online at www.ticketsource.co.uk/christminsters. Refreshments will be available.