Last Sunday evening a musical treat of Mozart’s Requiem was served up to a full audience in Duns Volunteer Hall by a choir of 88 local singers, recruited especially for the performance, 24 musicians; four singer soloists and the conductor, Kit Hobkirk.
It was a triumph of what can be achieved in such limited time. The choir had only two evenings and a weekend to rehearse.
The day of the performance, Sunday, included a three-hour full rehearsal.
It was also a triumph of organization by A Heart for Duns and their volunteers that enabled the musicians and singers to concentrate on bringing the people of Duns and district this excellent concert.
This was my first full experience of the Requiem. And what a joy it was.
I had only heard the lovely poignant piece from the Requiem repeated each episode in the ITV Crime Series ‘Endeavour’.
I am sure there were moments in the performance that were not perfect but if there were, they were lost on me.
It was a privilege to listen to such a wonderful range of voices and watch a choir totally immersed in the music and enjoying themselves, a tribute to Kit Hobkirk.
The four soloists were Lorna Anderson (Soprano), Susan Mackenzie-Park (mezzo-Soprano), Matthew McKinney (Tenor) and Arthur Bruce (Bass) who are experienced professionals of distinguished pedigree and who performed accordingly. The orchestra, likewise.
The youngest member of the orchestra twelve-year-old Eliza Bevan, who has been learning and playing with John Kenny, one of the finest trombonists in Britain, expressed how she felt:” I’ve had a fabulous time.
“Thanks to you and your team (AHFD). I hope you made a profit and will be doing it again.”
For Jean Miller,, who lives in Duns, this is her first time in the choir and she obviously enjoyed the experience.
She said: “It was fun to be directed by Kit Hobkirk (a very energetic conductor) and observe how he turned 88 scratch singers into a choir in only 15 hours.
“It was lovely to meet new people in our area with common interests. There were funny moments, even in a requiem, when someone sneezes exactly on the downbeat! I look forward to my next opportunity to sing in a scratch choir here in Duns. My thanks to the hard-working organisers.”
Kit Hobkirk lives locally at Abbey St Bathans and has had a distinguished career as head chorister in St Mary’s Music School, he has sung as a tenor soloist with chamber orchestras and renowned conductors throughout Europe, had an extensive career in opera, festivals, broadcasting and conducted many ‘come and sing’ performances. His energy and direction ensured the success of Mozart’s Requiem concert and the enjoyment of the participants and audience.
A Heart for Duns and principal organizer Genny Dixon plan future ‘Come and Sing Concerts’ in the Volunteer Hall which has been recently refurbished with new lighting and heating; this is just the start of a programme of development and improvements stretching into the near future to make the Volunteer Hall a top venue for musical concerts and entertainment of all kinds.