How do you kick off your 40th anniversary year in style? Well for OPMS it made sense to share our love of singing with our choral friends, much as we’ll be doing in November to bring the year to a triumphant close (watch this space for more on our Belshazzar project in due course); so we organised a ‘Come and Sing’ day at the end of January, held in the very hospitable Witney Methodist Church, to give enthusiastic choral singers who live further out of Oxford the chance to join us in a performance of the beloved Faure Requiem. The day began with coffee and cake at the charity coffee bar, which always sets up a singer for a choral workout. Members of OPMS then congregated to sing through some of the delights in store in our upcoming concerts, including Harris’s sublime Faire is the Heaven and Bruckner’s majestic Christus Factus Est. Keep a lookout for these in March and May, respectively!

Having got ourselves in the mood, we then welcomed about 55 friends and family for a melodious afternoon in the company of Faure. Singers came from Lower Windrush and Eynsham Choral Societies, Voicebox, The Faringdon Singers, and St Mary’s Witney, amongst others. Our conductor Mark got things off to a convivial start with the Gin and Tonic round, which always induces a smile (as well as an untimely craving for said beverage).  After some fun warm-ups, we got down to business. Mark paid great attention to detail such as dynamics and consonant placement as well as tuning, repeating passages until we had perfected them to his satisfaction. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed being made to work hard and challenged to get the best out of themselves.

After tea and (more!) cake we then assembled to perform the whole work to a small but select audience, preceded by a couple of items by OPMS by way of advertisement for future concerts. Guest soprano Heather Dehnel-Wild delivered a serene Pie Jesu, whilst our own Chris Emlyn-Jones rattled a few rafters in the Libera Me. Sebastian Thompson coaxed the somewhat recalcitrant organ into an accomplished accompaniment. We all thoroughly enjoyed singing together in the spirit of true ensemble – so much so that we are thinking of holding another ‘Come and Sing’ in the near future, so do look out for the next one! We hope to raise our voices with you again soon.