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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Worshipful Company concert

A concert was held at St Lawrence Jewry on 21 September to celebrate the 25th year of the grant of livery to the Worshipful Company of Actuaries (WCA) from the Court of Aldermen.The master – Alan Frost – had planned the concert himself – very much a case of Frosty the Showman as impresario! As he himself described it, the concert was a sandwich. Between two organ works there was music for voice spanning several centuries.

Bach’s Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, known as ‘The Great’, opened the concert with Catherine Ennis playing the main organ. Catherine is organist and director of music of St Lawrence Jewry. This is certainly a great organ work and sounded well in the acoustics of the church – despite a fairly low ceiling there is the echo of a big cathedral so the sound hangs around. Bach knew how to take advantage of this.

This was followed by the Deller Consort singing a group of madrigals. The Deller Consort was formed by the renowned counter-tenor, Alfred Deller, some 50 years ago but has been directed by his son Mark, also a counter-tenor, for the past 25 years. The five voices were well matched and were accompanied in certain pieces by their lutanist. Careful diction overcame any acoustic problems. Volume is not necessary for consort singing so it was a lovely contrast – intimate singing – after the organ with all the stops out.

Catherine returned to play the church’s smaller organ in a work by Farnaby – again a more intimate feel. Farnaby’s chief bequest is his keyboard miniatures and the work was one, ‘Quodling’s Delight’, which is in his Fitzwilliam Virginal Book.

The Deller Consort then performed a set of songs, including ‘Where the bee sucks’ and ‘It was a lover and his lass’.

After the Deller Consort it was clearly the time in Alan’s concert plan to turn up the volume again and go to the opera. He had asked John Graham Hall and his wife, Helen Williams, to sing for us. John is the son of Leonard Hall, a past master of the WCA.

Finally back to Catherine for the finale. Alan had commissioned a new work, ‘Variations on Laudate Spirituali’ by David Briggs. Laudate Spirituali is the grace which the Worshipful Company sings at the end of dinner. It was a great delight that the master of the Worshipful Company of Musicians was able to be present to hear this first performance – a great encouragement for more performances of the work.

Following this excellently chosen and well-performed concert, the evening was rounded off nicely by a light supper in the crypt of Guildhall surrounded by stained-glass windows depicting Pepys, Wren, More, Caxton, and Chaucer – spanning eras from where the music had come.