The Holst Singers are delighted that Stephen Layton has been awarded the MBE in the recent Queen’s Birthday Honours. This recogises his extraordinary contribution to music in this country over the last 30 years, and particuarly to choral singing. We are honoured to have had Stephen as our Musical Director for the last 27 years, during which time he has led us in a number of acclaimed recordings and innumerable memorable concerts. We look forward to continuing to sing together under his inspirational direction even during the current pandemic.
It can seem pretty bleak at the moment but people in the health service and beyond are doing amazing, hope-creating things. One such is Holstie tenor, Declan Costello, an ENT surgeon who – amid the heat and noise of the NHS ‘front line’ and devastated by the loss of friends – has picked up a life-saving idea from colleagues in Taiwan and brought it to production in the UK. This piece of kit addresses the extreme risks faced by those operating on patients with Covid-19 and urgently needs finance to make it more widely available. We’d be overjoyed if you’d consider supporting his crowdfunder project here.
The boggy patch formerly known as Thorney Island is set this Summer to become even murkier, with skullduggery and constitutional challenges to tax the best and wisest of us. We’ll be heading there in the opposite spirit: for Evensong at Westminster Abbey on Monday 12th August. Join us for some calm, aided by Eriks Ešenvalds’ Magnificat and Gustav Holst’s Nunc dimittis, under the direction of Greg Drott. The service begins at 17:00 but the queue can be long, so get there by 16:30.
“Too many felicities of colour, nuance and detail to mention, from the good-humoured, capricious continuo to farting contrabassoon, the contrasting derivation of the choral fugues from Bach and Handel, Lucy Crowe’s amorous cooings and flutterings as lark and dove. Everything was done with a terrific sense of enjoyment: I’ve rarely seen such a smiley bunch of performers. And the lodestone, in a performance with a far bigger, fuller and less namby-pamby sound than I’ve heard from a period band in a while, was an excitement in the process – of creation, and of its musical representation – something new around every corner, a pervasive feeling of wonder and rapture and surprise. Crowe was on her best, open-hearted and communicative form, Ben Hulett a clarion Uriel, William Berger a lyrical Raphael and Adam; the Holst Singers gave everything – notably the tenors swelling out of the top of The heavens are telling (here Die Himmel erzählen, in the original German).”
(From the Critics Circle review of “Die Schöpfung” at St John’s Smith Square, 19th Nov 2018)
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