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Organ Fireworks

 Spring Bank Holiday Monday (28th May) was a notable day in the history of Foxearth Church. An organ recital by Ian McMillan included the world premiere of two pieces especially written for him by one of Great Britain’s foremost composers, Dr John Rutter. Ian styled the concert  “Organ Fireworks” and he certainly kept his promise!

Beginning with J.S. Bach’s iconic Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (of “Fantasia” fame) Ian’s flying fingers and feet then had a more restful time in the dreamy Evensong by Easthope Martin. This was followed by Chorale No. 1 in E major by Cesar Franck – a great treasure of the organ literature.

The tour of the continent continued with a Toccatina for flutes by the Italian composer, Pietro Yon;a delightful two minutes or so of rapid semi-quavers! We then heard two Psalm Preludes by Herbert Howells, famous for his vast output of Anglican church music. No entertainment by Ian would be complete without some reference to his obvious passion for and expertise in the works of Gilbert and Sullivan and so we were treated to an exuberant rendition of Sir Arthur Sullivan’s the March of the Peers from Iolanthe arranged by Ian for organ.  Ian dashed up to the chancel to say a few helpful words about each item and when we reached the last programmed works he explained that Quentin had approached John Rutter to write some music for Ian’s milestone birthday and Dr Rutter had come up with Mr Mac’s Maggots; two pieces inscribed as Elegy and Festive Bells. These were, in turn, beautifully calming and vigorously descriptive.

For an encore Ian sent us homeward with the boisterous – and evocative of the fairground – Sortie in E flat by Lefebure-Wely ringing in our ears. We sang a belated birthday greeting to Ian incorporating Nick who today moved on another year.

We had hoped that Dr Rutter would be able to come to the recital but a conducting engagement at Carnegie Hall in New York understandably prevented this. However we were very pleased to welcome Mrs Rutter who was able to send photographs of the occasion across the pond.

Over 60 people attended the event and a handsome £570 was raised for the future maintenance of our fine 1863 Father Willis organ. On arrival coffee and shortbread biscuits were served and we are grateful to Margaret and the Foxearth ladies she enlisted in the  bake off. Thanks are also expressed to Malcolm, Fiona and Kevin for general help and rigging up the large video screen and to David for the car-parking facility. But where would have been without the initiative of Ian and Quentin in suggesting the concert in the first place and Ian’s superb playing which was loudly received by the appreciative audience.

Ken Nice

Quiz night! Saturday 12th May 7.30pm

In aid of Foxearth Parish Church.

Saturday 12th May 7.30pm in Foxearth Village Hall.

Bar (open 7pm), prizes, supper and a raffle.

Teams of up to 6 people. Quiz Master: Mr Peter Highmore.

Tickets £10 per person available from Corinne and Phil Cox (379410), Malcolm Graham (580348) Val Hastie (373277), or Ken Nice (375688).

Bocking Concert Brass in Foxearth

  Bocking Concert Brass, with soprano Lorraine Ely, made its promised return visit to Foxearth Church on 10th September – the first having been just a year ago. Once again we had a varied and carefully constructed programme featuring many well-known tunes – and others that we knew but couldn’t have named. There was a thigh-slapping waltz from Austria, a song from Italy and references to over the pond with the Battle Hymn of the Republic medley and a piece called Old Mississippi. Lorraine contributed a smoochy Summertime from Porgy and Bess, the Pie Jesu from Faure’s requiem, the Latin love song, Besame Mucho, Memory from Cats and As Time Goes By from the film Casablanca.; with her fine sense of interpretation and her soaring voice, nostalgia reigned.

Alas with a single voice – however strong  – pitted against twenty or so so pairs of lungs on brass instruments  – plus percussion -there is always the potential for balance problems and in some of Lorraine’s  items it wasn’t a very even contest. That said it was a very entertaining evening of music with several instrumentalists showing their expertise in solo items. Musical Director Ian Coote wielded an energetic baton – maintaining skilful tempi -and thoughtfully introduced each number with a few words. As it was the Last night of the Proms, the programme ended suitably with the Henry Wood Fantasia on British Sea Songs in which the appreciative audience showed that it knew what was expected of it in the ( excitedly accelerated ) hornpipe!

Buffet food and wine was served in the interval and we thank those who generously provided. Thanks are also expressed to Churchwardens Phil and Mally who organised and generally got the event off the ground. Mostly we thank those who forsook their armchairs and came along in support. As last year it is a pity that the concert generated such a relatively small amount of local interest.

The result, after expenses, was a small profit for the Parish Church restoration fund.

Ken Nice