It is said that Handel’s Messiah is sung roughly every twenty minutes somewhere in the world and choirs in Henley are certainly contributing to this statistic. The latest local contribution was on Saturday evening when Choirs Together ended their evening with Part one of Messiah, plus the Hallelujah chorus, of course. But to start at the beginning: seven local choirs, mostly church choirs, joined together to provide a delightful evening of singing at St Mary’s Church, an event which is in its tenth year. Each choir sung in turn providing a varied programme of sacred music. Choirs varied in size, experience, range of voice parts and music chosen. Some items were better known than others and there were some lovely contrasts such as Karl Jenkins’ Ave Verum (Alliquando) and Te Quiero (St John the Baptist, Kidmore End and Christ the King, Sonning Common). All contributions were well received by choirs and audience.
After the interval the choirs sung choruses from Messiah and four local competent soloists Rebecca Bell (soprano) Lucy Gibbs (alto) Emlyn Williams (tenor) and James Stickings (bass) sang the solos having previously been singing with their own choirs in the first half. The singers were taken swiftly into the Hallelujah chorus where much enthusiastic singing brought the evening to a rousing end. The organist for the Handel was Michael Howell and the popular conductor, Frances Brewitt-Taylor, held the massed singers together delighting both singers and audience. Bringing a mixed bunch of musicians together and ensuring that all runs smoothly is not a simple task and Liz Hodgkin and David Butler richly deserved the warm thanks they received for masterminding the event. Henley and local villages are indeed fortunate having so many musicians producing so much music for all to enjoy.
The event raised around £1700 for Diabetes UK.