Reliving history in music: a top-class concert

More than 250 people attended a concert by members of the superb Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment at St Nicholas’ Church, North Walsham, on Sunday, July 1.

There was huge acclaim for the world-class musicians, including soprano Julia Doyle, who took the lead role in the world premiere of the pocket oratorio Agnes, based on the letters of Agnes Paston. She was assisted ably by the boys, girls and men of the church choir, and the piece received a standing ovation. The oratorio was composed by Sarah Rodgers, who lives near Swaffham and was present at the concert –  receiving warm applause. 

Other music featured was by Purcell, Handel, Holborne, Warlock and Mozart - plus a traditional Basque carol, The Angel Gabriel, performed by the choir.

The orchestra's musical director, Robert Howarth – originally from Coltishall – introduced each item in a witty and entertaining way and added to the enjoyment of the evening.

The programme notes generously centred on the importance of the Footprints Project, and this was underlined in a discussion PHS chair Rob Knee had with the chairman of North Norfolk District Council, which partnered with Orchestras Live to put on the concert. He and Peter Stibbons had a meeting with the council last year to ask for their help. Dr Knee said: "They have responded superbly: it was the finest concert this town has seen for many a year.

"Matt (Champion, Footprints project manager) and I supported the very good range of outreach events that accompanied the visit of the orchestra, and pupils from the local High School were involved in the organisation of the concert."