Monday, October 26, Wantage Parish Church, 7.30pm: John Betjeman wrote Wantage Bells to commemorate his daughter Candida’s wedding in Wantage Parish Church – so it’s fitting that our concert for the Wantage (not just) Betjeman Literary Festival should be held there too!
To celebrate the brilliance of the former poet laureate – and to showcase the talents of local musicians – join Wantage Choral Society, Father John Salter and Geoff Williams for a joyous evening of poetry, music and song.
Trains were one of Betjeman’s passions and they also inspired the choral work, Didcot Haiku. Commissioned by the Choral Society and written and conducted by Paul Burke, the pieces set to music poems by James Potter, an Oxford-based musician and writer who was inspired by his regular commute through Didcot Parkway station.
Wantage Choral Society will be accompanied by Thomas Graff on piano and conducted by Burke.
Mezzo soprano Katherine Cooper will perform five songs from eight of Benjamin Britten’s Winter Words in the first half of the concert, with Thomas Graff on piano. This work is based on poems by Thomas Hardy and is dedicated to John and Myfanwy Piper, good friends of John Betjeman.
The evening will intermingle music with Betjeman’s poetry to be read by Father John Salter, Vicar at Wantage Parish Church and President of the Wantage branch of the Betjeman Society with some assistance from Geoff Williams, member of the Betjeman Society, Wantage Choral Society and the Literary Festival committee.
Paul Burke has been conductor of Wantage Choral Society for three years. Born in London, he studied with Robert Saxon at Oxford University and with Paul Patterson at the Royal School of Music. He is also conductor of South Chiltern Choral Society and London Contemporary Voices.
As a composer, work for the choir has been a significant part of Burke’s output. Recent highlights include Tribus miraculis – which was premiered by Salisbury Cathedral Choir and featured in Choir & Organ magazine – and Fare thee well, which appears on a critically-acclaimed Naxos disc of folksong arrangements.
Recent premieres include Two Trumpets of Silver at St Martin-in-the-Fields and a set of responses for broadcast on BBC Radio 3. His music has been performed in cathedrals and churches across the UK, and also broadcast on Channel 4 and Classic FM.
Thomas Graff started learning the piano at the age of four. He studied music at the University of Bristol, taking piano lessons with Raymond Clarke. His study at Bristol culminated with him playing a final year performance of Shostakovich Piano Concerto no.2 with the University Orchestra. Graff has subsequently performed in a range of venues including Colston Hall and the Welsh Millennium Centre.
Monday, October 26. 7.30pm. Ss Peter and Paul, Church Street, Wantage. £10
Entry is free for children and young people under 18, but they must be accompanied by an adult.
Click here to book online via Tickets Oxford.
Online booking closes on October 22.