May’s Verdi Requiem viewed from the audience

21 May 2023
THE SCRATCH® VERDI REQUIEM
Royal Albert Hall

This was a memorable day. The proceedings kicked off at 11 o’clock when more than 1,000 members of The Really Big Chorus met at the RAH for the first time for a two-hour piano rehearsal (the demanding orchestral reduction played admirably by Tim Carey). They reconvened at 2.30 pm for 90 minutes of hard work with the orchestra, and then gave the performance of their lives at 7 pm. The audience was rapt: coughing was notable by its absence, and there must have been a full 30 seconds of silence as the last chord hung in the air. Definitely a performance to remember.

Our team of soloists comprised Rebecca Hardwick (soprano), Amy Holyland (mezzo-soprano), Xavier Hetherington (tenor) and Ossian Huskinson (bass-baritone). Not only were they superb individually, but they worked brilliantly together, drawing this comment from TRBC Principal Conductor Brian Kay: ‘We simply couldn’t have had a better quartet: they blended so well and worked impeccably as a team.’ The English Festival Orchestra, led by Alison Kelly, was boosted during the Dies Irae by additional trumpets playing antiphonally from high above the stage, and by a huge Verdi bass drum.

Charity volunteers from Barts Cancer Institute sold programmes in aid of the Institute’s research work. They were well organised, well positioned and clearly visible in peacock-coloured t-shirts; these attributes, plus an encouraging opening speech from the Institute’s Professor Kairbaan Holdivala-Dilke, resulted in a programme sell-out, and more than £3,000 was raised, plus whatever profit was made on the advertising revenue once all the printing expenses were deducted. 

Feedback from our singers (join our Facebook Group to see more comments):

‘Such a wonderful concert. Great night at the Royal Albert Hall. We enjoyed so much.’ Rosi H
‘Wonderful event, and the whole evening was over far too soon!’ Richard B
‘Such a great performance by everyone. It is a marvellous feeling when it all comes together.’ Margaret S (who flew in from Australia for the day!)
‘This was really a once in a lifetime! Never to be forgotten!’ Birgitte
‘It was wonderful – I came from Trinidad to sing. Bravo! A great time – pure magic for me’ Christine C
‘What a wonderful performance. Brian succeeded in building and balancing us all brilliantly – one of the best we have sung.’ Marilyn P
‘It always astounds us in terms of the sheer numbers of singers, but also the quality of the final product.’ Richard G
‘A fantastic day and the music was amazing.’ Alison M

Our next RAH concert is Messiah from Scratch® on 12 November. Before that, why not fill the summer singing ‘desert’ by joining our Summer School in the first week of August? And for those who need Christmas shopping inspiration, our Christmas in Berlin singing holiday could be just the thing.

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