The Wokingham Paper

Inspired by terror, Reading Festival Chorus presents a new multimedia work

Reading Festival Chorus
Reading Festival Chorus

A NEW choral work will receive its local debut next month, sung by Reading Festival Chorus – the choir that the composer conducts.

Mass of The Martyrs was written by Edward-Rhys Harry in response to words spoken by Antoine Leiris after the murder of his wife in the Bataclan terrorist attack in Paris in November 2015.

The Mass is a multimedia work, in which a setting of the traditional mass for choir is interwoven with soloists telling the story of a refugee as she seeks a safe haven.

At the climax of the work is a setting of Leiris’ words: “I don’t know who you are and I don’t want to know. You are dead souls. You would like me to be scared, for me to look at my fellow citizens with a suspicious eye, to sacrifice my liberty for security. You have lost. The same player still plays…”

The premiere of the work took place in Warminster in May, and received an emotional and enthusiastic reception from the packed audience. In composing the Mass, Edward-Rhys Harry is attempting to create a new kind of choral work, which blends the opera and oratorio formats.

It will be sung by Reading Festival Chorus, under the direction of Edward, at Wesley Methodist Church, Queen’s Road, on Saturday, July 1, at 7.30pm.

Joining them will be four young, professional singers, orchestral members of the British Sinfonietta and local organist Simon Dinsdale will join the choir for what promises to be a thought-provoking and enjoyable evening of music-making.

Reading Festival Chorus, which was founded in 1945 to help raise morale through music in the aftermath of the Second World War, is particularly glad to support through this event the Reading Refugee Support Group, which offers a range of advice and support to refugees in the Reading area.

The programme will also include a performance of John Rutter’s Requiem, sung in memory of a long-standing member of the choir, Jim Laney, who died earlier this year.

Tickets are available in advance from tickets@readingfestivalchorus.org.uk , or on the door and a retiring collection will be taken in aid of the Reading Refugee Support Group.

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