REVIEW: Performing arts concert at St Wilfrid’s helps Friends of Chernobyl’s Children

The performers at the end of the concert in front of Grace Robinsons artwork. Pictures by Melvyn Walmsley
The performers at the end of the concert in front of Grace Robinsons artwork. Pictures by Melvyn Walmsley

Charity concert in aid of Friends of Chernobyl’s Children, St Wilfrid’s Church, Haywards Heath, November 18

This captivating performing arts concert unfolded before talented teenager Grace Robinson’s evocative centre-piece canvas, ‘The Lonely Hunter’.

The Lonely Hunter by Grace Robinson

The Lonely Hunter by Grace Robinson

It ranged from the premiere of Andrew Storey’s eponymous work for soprano (Sukey Parnell), flute (Alison Letschka), bass clarinet (Tony Donovan) and piano (himself) – a brilliant tribute to William Sharp’s wistful poem – to Baroque organ and chamber music.

Complementary readings – contemplative, empathetic, challenging – were appropriately delivered by Felicity Amor, Ralph George and Sukey.

We sensed the loneliness of impoverished rural Belarus and how the charity inspires local people to host and bring hope to children living in huts on land fouled by nuclear radiation.

The first half’s sombre, reflective mood was pierced by shafts of sunlight.

These included the tune ‘All Glory, Laud and Honour’ in a Bach chorale prelude played by organist Nic Robinson (paired with some darker Hindemith) and Jane Storey (alto), expressive in German’s ‘Orpheus and his Lute’.

Then the St Wilfrid’s choir, in Kelly’s ‘O Sweet Jesu’, heralded a post-interval mood-change to reassurance and personal commitment.

This, starting with Nic Robinson’s powerful rendering of Langlais’ ‘Te Deum’, led to a rousing conclusion, his well drilled choir in Murrill’s ‘Magnificat’.

But not before Sukey – with Gillian Ferguson (cello) and Andrew, on a harpsichord Gillian and her father had built, impressively sang Dowland’s ‘In Darkness Let Me Dwell’.

Thus, 15 contrasting musical items using period and modern instruments and poems old and new inspired support for Friends of Chernobyl’s Children, who, branch co-ordinator Sheila Nash said, are “forgotten people on the edge of Europe”.

To find out what else is on at St Wilfrid’s Church, Haywards Heath, visit www.stwilfridshaywardsheath.org.uk. All are welcome to the services and activities.

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