by Nikollo Drein
The enchanting echoes of youthful voices filled the All Hallows Church in London as the Finchley Children Choir, accompanied by the Finchley Choral Society, took center stage on Sunday, July 9th, at 7:30 pm. The concert, aptly titled “Hear My Prayer,” showcased the extraordinary talent and musical finesse of this remarkable ensemble. Led by the talented conductor Grace Rossiter, and with the piano accompaniment of John Evanson and Richard Harvey, the evening promised to be an exceptional and varied musical experience.
The concert commenced with a captivating set of pieces under the theme of ‘Hear My Prayer,’ featuring works by renowned composers such as Poulenc, Chilcott, Weir, Purcell, Briggs, Rheinberger, and many more. The Finchley Children Choir, known for their natural, vibrant vocal quality and high level of musicianship, effortlessly brought each composition to life. The choir’s versatility shone through as they flawlessly transitioned between different musical styles and genres, demonstrating their immense talent and professionalism.
The solos throughout the evening were a testament to the individual brilliance of the choir members. Mei Bonis, Lili Boulanger, Johannes Brahms, Kerensa Briggs, Bob Chilcott, Edward Elgar, Felix Mendelssohn, Francis Poulenc, Henry Purcell, Josef Rheinberger, Aulis Sallinen, Arthur Sullivan — the concert featured an impressive array of composers, each leaving their unique mark on the performance. The soloists’ emotive renditions showcased their exceptional vocal prowess, captivating the audience and leaving them mesmerized.
Undoubtedly, one of the highlights of the evening was the performance of Brahms’ thunderous Fourth Symphony. Regarded as one of the greatest symphonies since Beethoven’s groundbreaking works, the choir’s interpretation of this masterwork was nothing short of breathtaking. The seamless integration of the choral elements with the symphony was a testament to the ensemble’s ability to tackle complex musical compositions with grace and precision.
The concert also featured Vaughan Williams’ enchanting cantata, ‘In Windsor Forest,’ where the choir’s harmonious voices beautifully intertwined with the orchestra, creating a vibrant and evocative atmosphere. Additionally, Hubert Parry’s well-known piece, ‘Blest Pair of Sirens,’ left an indelible mark on the audience with its rich and stirring melodies.
Finchley Choral Society, performing three to four times a year, demonstrated their commitment to excellence through their collaboration with the Finchley Children Choir. The combined forces of these two remarkable ensembles elevated the performance to new heights, captivating the audience and leaving them yearning for more.
Founded in 1958, the Finchley Children’s Music Group (FCMG) has nurtured young talent and encouraged a love for choral music for over six decades. The group’s commitment to excellence is evident in their regular invitations to perform with prestigious orchestras such as the LSO, LPO, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Their appearances at renowned venues, including the BBC Proms, have solidified their reputation as a leading children’s choir in London.
The FCMG’s dedication to commissioning new music for children’s voices has resulted in collaborations with esteemed composers, including Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Malcolm Williamson, and Elizabeth Maconchy. These collaborations have enriched the choral repertoire, allowing FCMG to perform unique and captivating works that resonate with audiences of all ages.
In addition to their musical achievements, FCMG’s commitment to inclusivity deserves commendation. With over 150 members drawn from diverse backgrounds, FCMG ensures that financial circumstances do not hinder any child from experiencing the joy of choral music. The choir’s bursary fund, sourced primarily from voluntary donations, provides necessary support to those in need, allowing as many children as possible to benefit from being part of this exceptional group.
As the evening concluded, the resounding applause and standing ovation from the audience were a testament to the exceptional quality of the performance. Pleasantly pleased not only the musicians, but also soloists, the members of the choir, like the young talented Yan Bregman. The Finchley Children Choir, in collaboration with the Finchley Choral Society, had once again proven their musical prowess and ability to touch the hearts of all who had the privilege of attending.
The concert on July 9th at All Hallows Church was a celebration of music, talent, and the unifying power of choral harmonies. It was an evening that showcased the remarkable capabilities of the Finchley Children Choir and left the audience with a renewed appreciation for the beauty of choral music. This concert will undoubtedly be remembered as a captivating and unforgettable experience, reaffirming the Finchley Children Choir’s position as one of London’s most exceptional musical ensembles.