Jubilee Celebration in Old Royal Naval College
The Eltham College Choir and Chamber Choir led a celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee in a special concert held in the Chapel of the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich on Thursday 15 March.
The Choirs performed works which had been performed at the Queen’s Coronation Service in 1953, as well as other anthems from other Twentieth Century British Coronations. The concert followed the traditional order of the Coronation Service, as it has been held in Westminster Abbey since 1066. The structure of the service was established for the coronation of King Edgar in 973 and remains fundamentally unchanged to this day.
The concert opened with Parry’s setting of words from Psalm 122, I was glad, to which the Queen entered Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953. This was followed by the Chamber Choir’s performance of Herbert Howells’ introit Behold, O God our Defender, and then Handel’s Zadok the Priest – a work which has been sung at the moment of Anointing in every Coronation Service since that of George II. After the Chamber Choir had performed Wesley’s Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, the College Choir performed Karl Jenkins’ Sing we merrily - not a coronation work, but an anthem composed to mark the opening of Eltham College’s Music School in 2005 and premiered on that occasion by the College Choir in the presence of The Duchess of Kent. Vaughan Williams’ stirring arrangement of Old Hundredth Psalm Tune (‘All people that on earth do dwell’) was performed by the choir with the audience, before the Chamber Choir sang Elgar’s O Hearken Thou (written for the Coronation of Edward VII) and Vaughan Williams’ O Taste and See. The final choral works performed by the College Choir were a setting of the Gloria by John Rutter and C.V Stanford’s Te Deum in B flat, which had been performed at Edward VII’s coronation.
In addition to the choral works, three instrumental interludes were included in the concert. Poulenc’s Sextet for Piano, Oboe, Flute, Clarinet, Bassoon and Horn was presented by Anthony Daly, Joseph Beesley, Sebastian Wiseman, Jenny Townsend, Matthew Burgess and Matthew Segarty. Later Matthew Segarty (Upper Sixth) gave a memorable and extremely musical account of Larsson’s Concertino for Horn and Strings. Finally, Matthew Burgess (Upper Sixth) gave an impressive and beautiful performance of two movements from the Concerto for Bassoon in B flat by W.A. Mozart.
The Jubilee Concert concluded with the Choir and audience (which numbered over 300 people) raising the roof with a rendition of Gordon Jacob’s arrangement of the National Anthem, as performed at the Queen’s Coronation. It rounded-off an impressive and hugely enjoyable evening which once again testified to the high standards of music-making at Eltham College.
It is with much pleasure that we are also able to report that the concert raised over £1200 for the Threshers’ Day Nursery in Orpington, through generous donations to a retiring collection.