The occasion was the Eighth Annual Fall Festival of Music at the First Congregational Church in Ridgefield, directed by Edwin Taylor, which occurred on Sunday, November 2.. (It’s that church by the stone fountain, the one in the middle of the road that gets hits by cars so very often.) In fact the concert is part of the church’s Fountain Music Series.
The primary work was the Rutter Gloria with organ and brass. The singers included Edwin’s choir, singers from Jessie Lee United Methodist, and choir members who sang under the late Robert Ayotte of St Mary’s including a few of his paid soloists singing in the chorus(me for instance, and that is how I came to be involved) and a few from out of town. The 11-member brass and percussion ensemble was all imported and very expansive! The organist who played instead of Rob was Daniel M. Beckwith from Princeton. And no one ever forgets the fabulous Celebration Ringers – Edwin’s marvelous and discplined handbell choir.
We had dress rehearsal the afternoon of the concert. It was rigorous but very well organized so there was a minimum of hassle involved. Because most of us missed lunch, and would be concertizing well into the dinner hour, a meal was served at 3p.m. And there was coffee (I am always in need of caffeine), and I was grateful for the sustenance.
The brass ensemble opened in the side isles with a Gabrieli hymn arranged by Mr. Taylor. The brass and handbells were smashing! The handbells did Fantasy No 4 a new composition by Michael Helman and on Elgar’s Nimrod from his Enigma Variations. Later the brass and Organ together had a Taylor arrangement of Pacibell’s Deus in Adjutorium.
There were also a lot of congregational hymns. All in all, the concert went of without a hitch, Although it is hard to tell when you are singing – I think the choral works went very well too. I have to report that I actually did NOT GET LOST in the 5/8 sections of the Gloria. The Counting went very well.
There was a marvelous metaphoric talk Living in Harmony with the Universe, given by the Rev. Dr. Brenda Steirs about finding the tune and the key of life…..
For me the only difficulty was, that during a lush and beautiful duet The Lord’s Prayer, written by Mallotte and arranged by Mr. Taylor and sung by Amy Montanari and Faith Ferry – my eyes teared up, my sinuses clogged. It was so so very beautiful. I suppressed a cough until after this beautiful duet was done, then lost track a bit blowing my nose. We did the benediction ( The Lord Bless You and Keep You by Lutkin), from memory. And low and behold I remembered it. YEAH.
The concert ended with Moussorgsky’s Great Gate of Kiev in Mr. Taylor’s own arrangement for brass, organ, percussion, handbells and choir. And a good time was had by all….