A jubilant and celebratory Proms concert by Lord Williams’s Festival Chorus was enjoyed by an audience of 300 on Saturday at Thame Leisure Centre.
Amidst much flag waving the choir, accompanied by the superb Ealing Symphony Orchestra, performed Vaughan Williams’ ‘Toward the Unknown Region’, Handel’s ‘Zadok the Priest’ and three pieces by Charles Hubert Hastings Parry including his best-known work ‘Jerusalem’. Another Proms favourite, Elgar’s ‘Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1’, better known as ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ really did lift the roof with spectacular participation from the audience.
The orchestra performed several pieces including the rousing ‘Dam Busters March’ by Eric Coates, and the ‘Suffolk Suite’, a short work written in 1964 by local composer Doreen Carwithen who was born in Haddenham.
Laura van der Heijden, who was BBC Young Musician of the Year 2012, delighted the audience with a stunning performance of Dvorak’s ‘Cello Concerto in B minor’.
It was an evening of mixed emotions as the chorus said farewell to musical director John Gibbons. John, who has been with the choir for 13 years, is stepping down due to his extraordinarily busy schedule of commitments.
Chairman Karen Ross thanked John on behalf of the choir for all his encouragement, patience and belief in them over the years.
She said: “He has striven to get the very best out of us, introducing us to lesser known works and guiding us expertly through trickier pieces. We have also had the privilege of performing with the superb Ealing Symphony Orchestra, whom we shall also miss.”
The chorus will perform Handel’s ‘The Messiah’ on December 1 under the leadership of new musical director Jeff Stewart.