Teenage soprano and baritone vicar duet in style

Review: Summer Music in a Country Church, St Peter and St John the Baptist, Wivelsfield.

Saturday, 2nd July 2011, 1:43 pm

A musical alliance between a vicar of mature years and a teenage singer of glowing promise was one of the highlights of the Summer Music in a Country Church concert.

So it was that Rev Christopher Breeds, vicar of St Peter and St John the Baptist at Wivelsfield and the charming Rebecca Leggett duetted in delightful harmony in the 11th century church on a glorious evening.

Their spiritual bond as accompanist, baritone and talented soprano and shone through the uplifting Pie Jesu from Faure’s marvellously tuneful Requiem and Franck’s Panis Angelicus, though Mr Breeds had already given notice of his considerable solo ability on a confidently powerful That God is Great by GF Handel early in the diverse and well-paced programme. He later gave his strongest solo performance in a well-projected version of The Holy City by Adams.

Rebecca, a member of the Brighton Festival Youth Choir, showed her crystal clear diction as well as her range on Morning Has Broken, with Mr Breeds on the keys providing graceful support.

There was plenty of other youthful promise to enjoy, with nimble harpist Susannah Jones jauntily playing Grandjany’s uplifting Reverie and Annie Onions giving plenty of energy to Spring from the Four Seasons by Vivaldi.

Organist David Billam obviously enjoyed his every solo moment with relish, none more so than the hugely enjoyable second movement of the lively Handel’s Cuckoo and The Nightingale, including humorous Cuckoo calls.

The supplemented choir was at its best by the time Jenny Billam and accompanist Judith Miller steered it elegantly through Rutter’s soothing For the Beauty of the Earth.

It all somehow summed up an uplifting evening last Saturday provided by local talent to boost funds for the church’s organ fund.

Phil Dennett