It was a great honour to have two of the popular community ensembles – the St Christopher’s Community big band and the Manama Singers joining together to arrange a Farewell Concert for us. Tricia for many years sung with the Manama Singers and served as Secretary on the Committee and it is lovely to see the way the choir has grown in recent years under Jo Mings’ direction. And Paul Bagshaw, who conducts the Big Band has been a great supporter of the Cathedral Concerts, has performed in several guises and instigated a concert to raise funds for our new piano. It was quite a challenge to move the piano from the Cathedral to the Alun Morris Hall – not something that will happen again in a hurry I suspect; eventually we hired seven strong men to cross the car park with it. It brought back recollections when I was Rector of St Martin’s Bowness-on-Windermere in the English Lake District. A concert pianist arrived with a grand piano on its side in a horse-box towed by a Landrover. It was too big to wheel down the aisle and we had to get a team to lift it above the pews and then after the performance carry it back again and negotiate with the adjacent Olde England Hotel to store it for the price of a free concert performance there!
Our farewell concert here was a very special occasion. The band kicked off the evening with several lively pieces, including Celebration, Amazing Grace and Happy which was followed by harp guitarist Jason Carter playing a couple of his own compositions: Jesser Al Wadi and The Colour of Silence, a piece inspired by time in a very remote area of Finland.
After an interval, the Manama Singers came on stage singing a variety of choral items Stainer’s God so loved the world and Ave Verum Corpus by Byrd and two hymns including the hymn that I had written for a competition marking our Diocese’s 40th Anniversary to the tune of Danny Boy, perhaps something I might try my hand again post-Easter. Ahmed Al Ghanem played three pieces by French composers, one Pièce Romantique, which he dedicated to Tricia, and his own world premiere composition Solitude, which he dedicated to me. More than 150 people, which included performers, attended and clearly thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Thank you very much to all the musicians and choir members who took part.