WOKINGHAM Choral Society gave its Summer Concert in All Saints' Church, Wokingham, on Saturday 22 June, 2019. Its title, Songs of Travel, was taken from the main work after the interval, a song cycle composed by Vaughan Williams, written originally for baritone and piano to poems by Robert Louis Stephenson. This music, including a moving setting only discovered after the composer's death of 'I have trod the upward and downward slope', was performed in an arrangement for the choir by the Society's multi-talented conductor, James Morley Potter. James also figured prominently in the first half featuring poems he wrote whilst changing trains regularly at Didcot Parkway (!), in evocative settings composed by a friend and colleague, Paul Burke.
Other parts of the richly varied programme, supported by exemplary Concert Programme notes, included songs with spiritual or folk music inspiration, especially a poignant version of Deep River. On the keyboard the Society's accompanist, Benedict Lewis-Smith, gave a sparkling performance of Percy Grainger's Arrival Platform Humlet. He and James together also stunned the audience with an arrangement of Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries, teasing the imagination on how their virtuosity would have sounded on the piano rather than keyboard.
The Society have again rewarded their listeners with a memorable evening and performed an extremely creative programme with consummate versatility.
The Society's next concert will be a performance of Haydn's Creation in the Great Hall of the University of Reading on Saturday 11 November.
R. J. Eaglen. 24 Jun 2019