Handwashers’ Newsletter 15th November 2020

DRIVEN TO TEARS BY BERLIOZ Dorothy Hartridge remembers:

One of the most emotional concerts I have ever been to, was at the Anvil in Basingstoke.  

The Anvil, Basingstoke

Colin Davis was conducting Berlioz Requiem (Grande messe des morts) which is a huge work. It was going to be performed at the Proms on Sunday 23rd July 2000 but because of the size of the choir and orchestra he needed the space to have a dress rehearsal. So, on the Friday two days before, it was put on at the Anvil.

Sir Colin Davies

The orchestra and choir were all young students of the Guildhall School of Music and the Paris Conservatoire along with the New Philharmonia Chorus, so you get some idea of the size.

I was sitting bang in the middle of the auditorium and half of the orchestra was up in the balconies. So, we had horns and trombones above us to the right and, if I remember correctly, some of the choir on the left, so we had this all-round sound, which was fantastic.

Hector Berlioz (1803– 1869)

It’s a very powerful piece of music and the volume of noise was almost overwhelming. By the time it had finished I had tears streaming down my face.

Sorry we don’t have a picture of Dorothy with tears streaming down her face but here is a recording of the Berlioz Requiem with Sir Colin conducting the LSO and Chorus:


and, on a lighter note, here’s Berlioz’ Roman Carnival Overture played by the Purcell School Orchestra: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IC0XFCpEkW8 Ed.)

Just for fun, here’s something to sing or hum along to whilst it’s raining; Vivaldi’s Gloria performed by an all-female orchestra and choir in the Pieta in Venice:


 (Note that the present Pieta wasn’t built until after Vivaldi’s death; the original is now incorporated into the next door Hotel Metropole.)


(I may come to regret showing you this from Sonia! Ed.)