Saturday June 23 was one of those days which made me glad to be settled in Eastbourne.
The tennis was just getting under way, while the dramatic renovation of the Congress Theatre was becoming evident.
The sun was shining as I drove to the Hydro Hotel for a meeting of the Sussex Opera and Ballet Society (SOBS to its afficionados).
I was to introduce Keith Warner, now one of the world’s leading opera directors, who is shortly to stage the entire Wagner Ring Cycle for the second time at Covent Garden.
Though busy preparing “Vanessa” for our local opera-house at Glyndebourne, he made time to talk to SOBS about what an opera director actually does.
To say he was well-received is an understatement.
The bombardment of questions after his address expressed the interest he had generated not only in opera’s musical elements, but also in the drama of its stories.
My evening was spent in St Saviour’s Church, enjoying a varied programme of short choral pieces.
The Concentus choir is like no other: it happily mixes classical and romantic works with pop and modern musical shows.
On this occasion we had nine items before the refreshment interval, and twelve after.
The opener was “I do like to be beside the seaside”, which was followed by some half-dozen songs by that most prolific of American composers, Irving Berlin.
Musical Director Adrian White handed the baton to his Assistant, Jo Fowler, on several occasions, partly so that we could enjoy his own vocal rendition of such items as the Anthem, from “Chess”.
The second “half” showed the choir in more serious works: Elgar, Wagner and Verdi, for example.
Of special significance was a new work by Clive Whitburn, “Pax Amor Caritas”.
Clive was there to take a well-deserved round of applause.
Members of the choir occasionally became soloists: Jo Fowler, Paul Vinnicombe, Chris Higgins and Louise Soper were quite at home taking centre stage.
This “quality in depth” is what one loves about Concentus.
One also loves their social responsibility.
Their takings support the JPK Project. Jill Parker, MBE was there, and will have noticed the full house.
Also present was Eastbourne’s Liberal MP and his Conservative predecessor: a nice reminder that British politics need not always be confrontational.
Keyboard players John Ross and Robert Cousins managed to sound like a church organ or a honky-tonk piano on demand, while Ed Chisholm kept everything in time as drummer and percussionist.
The next appearance of Concentus in Eastbourne will again be at St Saviour’s (bring a cushion!) at 4 pm on December 15th.
By Robin Gregory