Concerts

CONCERT PROGRAMME 2021(click to view)

With its spacious interior, generous seating capacity and excellent acoustics, St Peter’s is an ideal venue for concerts. These include the church’s own promotions as well as those of visiting organisations. Following the easing of restrictions, we are delighted that the second half of 2021 will see the return of live music to this beautiful building.

We offer a popular, informal summer series of lunchtime concerts on the first Thursday of each month from April to October. Light lunches are available from noon, and the concerts start at 12.30pm. Admission is free, but donations are very much appreciated. The annual Flower Festival in August customarily includes a lighter concert on the Saturday evening, which is always a lively social event with wine and other refreshments on offer before the concert and during the interval.

St Peter’s is in demand for externally promoted concerts, which include performances by renowned local choirs and bands, as well as regular events by the prestigious Roman River Festival – we are delighted to be hosting the opening night of their 2021 season in September. The church is also a regular venue for the concerts of the Colchester Chamber Choir, one of East Anglia’s finest musical organisations. Organ recitals are also given from time to time. Please see the schedule below for a full list of what is planned 2021.

For further details contact the Concert Manager: Sarah Wickens: sfwickens@yahoo.co.uk

CHOIR PRACTICE TIMES

Weekly choir practices are held in the church on Friday evening as follows:

7.00-7.30pm            Junior Choristers only.

7.30-8.15pm            Full Choir including Junior Choristers.

8.15-9.15pm            Adult Choristers only.

Sunday’s Full Choir practice is at 10.00am in the church, before the 10.30am Mass.

When there is Evensong, a Full Choir practice is held at 4.00pm, before the service at 5.15pm.

Other additional practices for services, concerts and cathedral visits may be arranged.


2021 Concerts

Date
Event
Sunday 27 June, 6pm
Roman River Festival charity concert
Thurs 1 July, 12.30
Lunchtime Concert – Christine Stevenson (piano)
Thurs 5 Aug, 12.30
Lunchtime Concert – Giotto Quartet (with Janet Banks)
Sat 28 Aug, 7.30
Flower Festival Concert – Martin Dobson’s Midnight Oil
Thurs 2 Sept, 12.30
Lunchtime Concert – Derek Harrison (piano) & Hal Fowler (baritone)
Thurs 16 Sept, tbc
Roman River Festival – Opening Night – Stile Antico
Thurs 7 Oct, 12.30
Lunchtime Concert – Michael Frith (organ recital)
Sat 27 Nov, tbc
Colchester Chamber Choir – Details to follow
Sat 18 Dec, tbc
West Bergholt Concert Band Christmas Concert

THE RETURN OF LUNCHTIME CONCERTS

We had a foretaste of normal Church life on 1st July, when Christine Stevenson returned to St Peter’s to give the first of a new season of lunchtime concerts. She is, of course, one of our most distinguished regular visitors, and her piano recitals are always eagerly anticipated. 

Introducing her programme, she described it as ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ – Vienna and Weimar: Vienna first, with some delightful variations by the young Beethoven on a popular operatic aria of the time. This was obviously designed for amateur performers, unlike the following Sonata in A minor (D784) by Schubert: a work in which dark, impending tragedy is unpredictably contrasted with moments of playfulness and heart-warming lyricism, culminating in its virtuosic third movement, which is almost a dance of death. Perhaps it reflects the turbulence of the composer’s private life, as well the general atmosphere of repression, uncertainty and fear in post-1815 Austria. It certainly demands of the performer a supreme technique and the ability to unify these sudden transitions of mood into a clearly conveyed narrative. Ms Stevenson is more than equal to such a task, and her performance was exceptionally vivid, and at times, spine-tingling.

No less impressive was her final group of Franz Liszt’s transcriptions of songs by Schubert and Schuman and the final Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde.  In the latter, Liszt set himself the task of recreating, for solo piano, one of the supreme moments of nineteenth-century opera in which the soprano heroine sings radiantly above an enormous orchestra in an overwhelming catharsis which, in its time, sent some young aesthetes from Paris swooning and fainting. It needed all of Liszt’s famous wizardry to bring off such a transcription; Christine Stevenson has the necessary power and musicianship to bring it to life. Through enormous torrents of notes, she kept the different layers of the orchestral texture in perfect balance, always allowing the solo voice part to soar above, through one overwhelming climax after another.

This was the culmination of the Weimar component. Between the Schubert and Wagner we were treated to three shorter pieces by Bach, Brahms (who visited Liszt in Weimar in 1853) and the 20 year-old Mendelssohn. The latter’s Fantasie in E minor was a welcome contrast with the more serious items; it is one of its composer’s most delightful, fleet-footed scherzos, and it demonstrated again Ms Stevenson’s versatility and expressive range.

Arrangements are already being made for yet another return visit next year.


CHORAL EVENSONG

Evensong is a balance of psalms, canticles, scripture readings and prayers.  Much of this is sung by the choir, providing a reflective and prayerful space of contemplation and peace for the congregation.

The choir sings a full Choral Evensong usually on the fourth Sunday of each month at 5.15pm.

All are welcome to attend.