The Church of Christ the King in Asslar, Germany offered a modern setting for the joint concert with Werdorf choirs ‘Allegro’ and ‘MGV 1865’. With a superb contemporary mural of Christ on the cross behind the choirs, excellent acoustics due to the high ceiling and a full house we were set for an excellent evening of song.
After the welcome speeches in German and English followed by the first two songs from Werdorf MGV, their Musical Director, Reiner Genz, was presented with an award for a long list of musical achievements. Werdorf closed with ‘Ave Maria’ – very apt for a Catholic church and SEMVC took to the stage. Musical Director, Mark Jefferson, introduced each song in German (albeit with a West Midlands accent!) The first set included ‘Rachie’, ‘Anthem’ from ‘Chess’ and ‘Mulligan Musketeers’, the highlight being ‘Shall we Gather at the River’ as the last verse builds to a mighty crescendo. Before the last notes died away the crowd were cheering their appreciation. The two choirs then joined together to sing a harmonious version of Psalm 23 (The Lord is my Shepherd) before the interval.
The second half began with ‘Allegro’ – the mixed Werdorf choir – who sang three numbers including ‘Hallelujah’ by Leonard Cohen. SEMVC followed with ‘Aberystwyth’, ‘What Would I do Without my Music’ and ‘American Trilogy’ – there were a few tears shed due to the power and emotion expressed by the massed voices. The final song was ‘Rhythm of Life’ which everyone enjoyed so much that an encore was requested. MD and accompanist John Ottley switched places and the choir sang ‘Mustang Sally’ conducted by a very animated John, to the delight of the audience who clapped along with the music and gave a standing ovation. After a second encore of the sweet, lilting Gershwin’s ‘Embraceable You’, the two male voice choirs joined together again for ‘Softly as I Leave You’, gently bringing the audience back down to earth. The concert closed with presentations to Mark and John Ottley from SEMVC and Reiner from Werdforf MGV.
At the beginning of the concert it was said ‘music knows no borders’ which was certainly true as we enjoyed this feast of song together, followed by a fantastic feast of food and drink prepared by our hosts. Roll on October for the return visit!