I went to a concert last night by our choral neighbours, The Mornington Singers. They are conducted by the lovely Orla Flanagan and sang in the marvellous Pro-Cathedral in Dublin.
It was my first time in the cathedral (the Catholic one…not sure why it gets the positivity prefix…) and it really is quite nice indeed. Not too over-the-top in terms of gold and such, but there are two domes in the roof and a large area around the altar that lended itself perfectly to the choir’s arched formation. (Note to self: do I mean ‘arced’? Looks wrong.) The building reminded me of St Cecilia’s Hall in Edinburgh, one of the concert rooms built in Georgian times. Of course, the cathedral is bigger and more, well, ‘churchy’, but it did seem to yearn for ancient Greece or Rome in the way that the Georgian architects favoured.
The programme for the evening was titled ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ but, apart from Veljo Tormis’s ‘St John’s Day Songs’, this was less a theme and more an apt description of the evening’s experience.
The concert opened with two pieces by James MacMillan: ‘A Child’s Prayer’ and ‘The Gallant Weaver’. I wondered about opening with the first of these. It does begin with the word “welcome” but it is an intense piece and I wasn’t sure I was ready to hear it straight off. It’s a great sing for the two soprano soloists, whose intertwining lines gracefully float over the sonorous repeated chords of the choir. The middle section flickers with ornamented notes in all parts on the word “joy” and propels the music upward to the final, heart-breaking duet.