August 17, 2015
This entry was written by Peter Kreek
I listened to some of the final rehearsal from the nave of Westminster Abbey. It was heavenly – the blend of voices, the cantor, the organ. Wonderful! The wash of sound is impossible to describe.
I got to take time off; the choir rehearsed for hours, as they do each day during their residency: first in the choir room, behind the scenes, and then in their black cassocks in the Quire, with an impromptu “audience” of visitors to the Abbey. The choir have been rehearsing throughout the summer and their dedication is apparent. For the service of Evensong, I was honored to sit in the Quire with choir. It was very revealing how difficult their task is: the choir, cantor, and organist who have never met before must unify around a familiar liturgy but unique music, and it is the responsibility of the choir director – Dr. Bruce Glenny, for St. Peter’s – to oversee and manage this delicate relationship. [A note from the editor: the St. Peter’s choir is accompanied by their organist Kevin O’Malia, but he was not permitted to play at Westminster Abbey; he is playing for the choir at St. Paul’s Cathedral and at St. Martin-in-the-Fields.)
The consummate professionalism of all of these people shown through. It all brought tears to my eyes.
The venue was difficult. The Quire is behind a robust rood screen, and the organ sits atop the screen in a very confined space. The choir is separated in cathedral style, so communication is difficult. The director’s and organmaster’s craft are on constant display and of paramount importance. The effort put in by the choir was heroic – and the result was world class.