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Record of Musical & Artistic Events

Passiontide 1999 saw a performance of Stainer's Crucifixion at St Edward's. This is not an uncommon event - one member of the congregation remarked that it was helpful to have such familiar music when meditating on the Passion. But 25 years earlier, in 1974, music of this sort had not been performed in St Edward's for many years, and it was with some trepidation that the choir of that time embarked upon their first performance of a "major cantata"! Two members of the choir of 1974 are still singing in the choir of 2001.

Prior to 1974, the two Carol Services at Christmas (since 1946) and Easter (since 1962) were the only departures from the regular round of Eucharists and Evensongs - apart, that is, from one "major innovation" which took place in 1972. It had been the custom for many years for the choir to take a stall at the Annual Bazaar, but in 1972 it was decided that a more appropriate contribution could be made by giving a Christmas Concert to raise funds, and accordingly this was arranged for 15th December. It was a fairly elaborate affair, including a fibre-glass "star", hung across the chancel, with a torch bulb attached to make it glow at the appropriate point in the story! This event was so successful that another concert was arranged the following year (21st December 1973), and indeed this became an (almost) annual event.
The performance of "Crucifixion" was followed in 1975 by a performance of the cantata "Darkness and Dawn" by F.W.Peace, and it was intended that such music should be performed as part of the Passiontide devotions each year. For the following two years, however, this was not to be, as the death in 1976 of Robert W. Riddett, who had been our organist since 1941, was a cruel blow to the choir, a number of whom had sung under his guidance for many years. Music for the services was maintained, with accompaniment and much encouragement from Mr Riddett's brother, Francis Riddett, until Norman Doe joined us in 1977 and enabled us to broaden further the musical interests of St Edward's.

Passiontide in 1978 and 1979 saw repeats of the cantatas of 1974-5, but works were performed on other occasions - Vivaldi's Gloria at All Saints-tide (subsequently repeated at St Samson's Church, Grangetown, by invitation of the vicar, Fr Frank Begley), and a special choral setting of the Eucharist for Corpus Christi.
In 1980, a new "Lessons and Carols" style Service was introduced for Harvest Thanksgiving - an innovation that has become a regular part of our worship.
By 1981, the choir was ready to embark on a series of oratorios, starting (of course) with Handel's Messiah. Our first ventures in this field were just excerpts from the major works, but by 1984 we were performing substantial amounts of the major oratorios, such as Haydn's Creation.

1984 also saw the first Advent Carol Service, which was immediately incorporated into our programme as an annual event.

When special talents were available, we were quick to exploit them. For example, in 1985 one of our choristers, Stephen Hamnett, was training as a Bass Soloist, and we produced Mendelssohn's Elijah with his contribution in the title role.

1988 saw the first of many performances of "musicals", concentrating on the talents of the young people in the church: "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" was a great success, and the idea of performing musicals annually was soon to supersede the annual Christmas concert. Many of the best known musicals have been performed, such as "Jesus Christ, Superstar" and "Godspell". Another favourite has been "The Witness" by Jimmy & Carol Owens. Members of St Edward's have even turned their hands to writing musicals themselves (e.g. the production of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol").

Also in 1988, one of our many performances of Vivaldi's Gloria was accompanied by violin, cello, flute and clarinet (thus employing the talents of four young musicians who were available to us at the time).

In 1989, Fred Waite brought his orchestra to St Edward's, and very soon they made the church their home, and indeed recruited new members, forming the "St Edward's Orchestra". This added a new dimension to the music-making of the church, and Choir and Orchestra have given regular performances, sometimes together and sometimes separately, for the last ten years. In particular, the String Orchestra has joined the choir in leading the Christmas Carol Service each year.

The regular musical events at the church were widely advertised, and local professional and amateur musicians expressed interest in performing there - many commenting on the exceptionally good acoustics of the building. Under the guidance of Fr Ken Martin, the Church Committee decided to follow a policy of encouraging local musicians to perform in the church, as a means of outreach to the local community. This policy has been outstandingly successful.

Since 1991, there has been a devotional service on Good Friday evening, during which the Choir, usually joined by the orchestra, performs a suitable choral work such as a Requiem. The church is almost always full on these occasions, and sometimes newcomers have joined us at the Eucharist on Easter Day.

Also in 1991, a Music and Arts Festival was arranged to celebrate the Feast Day of our Patron Saint, Edward the Confessor (13th October). Each year since then, in addition to the regular Patronal Eucharist, about six to ten events have been arranged, giving an opportunity to anyone who would like to take part - and allowing everybody to find something that appeals to them. Most of the events are musical, reflecting the interests of the majority of our more active members, but Philippa Waite is a regular contributor with her Baroque Dance displays and workshops - and occasionally Philippa, together with Caroline Lamb, has led us in worship with a service of Liturgical Dance. Also we have had talks from local historian Dennis Morgan, and Art and Photography displays. Several hundred people join us each year to celebrate our Festival, and some hundreds of pounds are raised for charity.

In 1992, local musicians Jayne Thomas and Carolyne Peters were invited to bring their pupils to the church to give a concert for their parents and friends. This also proved to be very successful, and Jayne and Carolyne, together with many other musicians, regularly bring their pupils to St Edward's to perform.

In 1993, "National Music Day" was created by the government, and St Edward's made some imaginative contributions each year until 1997, after which, perhaps due to the change of government, the idea seems to have been abandoned.

In November 1994, in preparation for the Mission "Cardiff Alive '95", a series of bi-monthly Taizé Services was instituted, taking advantage of the talents of some of our choir members, and also some members of the orchestra. These rapidly became popular with Christians of many different denominations, some travelling many miles to attend them. Five years later, the services are still well received. In addition (but not listed below) regular monthly Services of Compline have been sung on Thursday evenings at 9pm (after choir practice).

The Mission in 1995 brought many new ideas to the church, but most of them outside the "Music and Arts" field (e.g. the Alpha Course) - largely because the majority of the musical "innovations" brought by the missioners were already "up and running" at St Edward's. One idea that has been adopted is the Annual Fun Day, which elsewhere may not have a musical content, but at St Edward's we incorporate periods of worship using all the different media (worship songs, Taizé, the Offices etc.) - because worship is "fun" too.

Starting in 1996, in addition to the Good Friday devotional service, we introduced a similar service on Passion Sunday, in which the choir performs a Cantata (this year Stainer's Crucifixion, which brings us full circle!), one purpose of which is to give young adults in the choir the opportunity to take major solo parts (singing or accompanying).

For the first time in 1998, the choir and orchestra combined to lead the music of a Eucharist Service, performing the Mass in C by Beethoven. Choir and orchestra occupied the chancel, the congregation occupied the nave, and Fr Ken Martin celebrated in the midst of the people at the chancel steps. This was a very moving experience, and we will no doubt look to repeat it in the future.

Our three or four events per year of the 70's have increased to about thirty in the 90's. Each year brings new ideas, new enthusiasm, new people. We look forward to the next millennium with keen anticipation.

The following lists of events are compiled from musical records, programmes and newsletters.

1974
1975
1976
1977
1978
1979
1980
1981
1982
1983
1984
1985
1986
1987
1988
1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005

This page is maintained by Alan Mayer (stedward@jesusanswers.com)

Last updated 11 December, 2005.