In March, after a two-year Covid-induced break, we were delighted to join together in the Abbey Church for our annual choral concert.

The Plunkett Chapel was used as the backdrop, creating a more intimate performing space without losing the church’s glorious acoustic; it suited the occasion extremely well. Fauré’s sublime setting of the Requiem Mass is rightly one of the most popular of all the choral works. Pre-Covid, it was a core part of the Schola’s repertoire and received an annual liturgical performance but now, after only two years away, the overwhelming majority of singers was performing it for the first time. They worked very hard to master it, and they gave a confident and detailed performance, ably led by the senior choristers.

The work exists in various versions, and we heard the unusual orchestration of Faure’s original: low strings only, apart from the solo violin, with timpani, horns, harp and organ. The Downside Festival Orchestra made the most of the warmth and sonority of this combination, giving an extra richness and intensity to the overall sound.

We were fortunate to have an outstanding group of soloists drawn from among the Upper Sixth chorsiters. The baritone solos were sung by William and Dominic, and Head of School Stephanie sang the haunting Pie Jesu.

Many congratulations to all involved for their polished, expressive and moving performance of this great work.