Bless the Lord! Andrew Carter’s Benedicite
This year’s Area Festival was a great success: in a different format from usual, built around a single work – Andrew Carter’s 1989 Benedicite, a multi-movement piece with music that is beautiful, moving, fun, and challenging all at the same time. Benedicite was an ideal work for a Festival, featuring SATB singers from across Essex, and a children’s choir made up of trebles from a number of churches, including Chelmsford Cathedral. The day was generously hosted by St Andrew’s Hornchurch and culminated in a well-attended service featuring hymns, readings and prayers, with the Carter work divided into sections between.
The theme of Creation was chosen for the Festival as it took place just after St Francis’s Day, and at a time when many churches in the diocese are celebrating Harvest Festival and pet services; the Carter was therefore a natural choice. The familiar one-day format saw 62 singers assembling for the day, with just under half working with Chelmsford Cathedral Organist (and RSCM Area Chair) James Davy to learn notes in the morning before being joined by the choirs of Chelmsford Cathedral later on; Chelmsford’s new Assistant Organist Hilary Punnett rehearsed and conducted the movements with children’s choir and accompanied the full choir movements on the organ with great colour and sensitivity; hymns and voluntaries were played by Hornchurch’s Organist Andrew Losq.
Everyone gave their absolute best across a long day, and the joyful service included a terrific performance of Benedicite – a piece with a lot of technical challenges, but one that hit home with its evocative depictions of ‘Whales and Waters’, ‘Butterflies and Moths’, and ‘Ice and Snow’, and its fun movements ‘Badgers and Hedgehogs’ and ‘Grannies and Grandads’. We were blessed with fine weather, a good congregation and a great group of happy and satisfied singers. The Area committee is hugely grateful to all who participated and supported the event; we wish Andrew Carter a very happy 80th birthday year, and thank him for his immensely enjoyable music.
Photographs courtesy of Antony Timmins.