With perfect Christian timing, Landaff Cathedral sacked its seven adult choristers in the week before Christmas. Last night, they sang their last. David Hutchings was there for Slipped Disc:
Last night, in their final concert, Llandaff Cathedral Choir gave a performance of the utmost professionalism, not simply singing beautiful music for us, but thoroughly entertaining, justifying every penny that has been spent upon them. After today, the professional adult members of the choir have been made redundant, along with the deputy organist, Sachin Gunga.
Anyone familiar with the traditional setup at a Cathedral will be aware of the vital role the deputy plays in either accompanying or conducting the choir. In the absence of an incumbent Cathedral Dean, with a Canon who was ill in bed, it fell to one of the assistant clergy to welcome the congregation and introduce the concert – one of the few clergy at Llandaff – who has been steadfast in his support for the choir and music over the years. So did the choir let anything mar their performance in any way?
Not a bit of it. They showed musical flair alongside their trademark flexibility with a selection of rousing carols including Whitacre, Rutter and Mathias, along with a particularly beautiful setting of the Ave Maria sung far in the depths of the cathedral body, out of sight. It was the redundant men of the choir led by Gunga, the outgoing deputy organist, who stole the show, rebranding themselves as ‘The Low Rangers’, Donning DJs rather than choir robes and stunning their audience with a hilarious ‘Once In Royal David’s City’, in Gunga’s spectacular showstopping arrangement.
To round off the concert, we were invited to sing in what might go down as the most rousing ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’ ever sung in the Cathedral. Cue the longest standing ovation I have witnessed in Llandaff. Time to go home then. But not before the conductor, Richard Moorhouse, stood to pay an impassioned tribute to all the choristers, choirboys included, who will be kept on without the motivation of working alongside their adult role models.
Moorhouse praised the courage, determination and loyalty of his choristers, as well as their creativity in coming up with fundraising proposals (which I have been informed were not given due consideration by the administration). Their professionalism throughout, we were told, is evidenced simply by their presence here tonight, in the capacity of entertainers. We would finish, he told us, with something the choir sing day in, day out at evensong, the Magnificat in D by George Dyson. Before returning to conduct the choir for the last time, he closed with the words ‘Gentlemen, it has been a privilege’. The Magnificat was sublime, there were tears all round, a second standing ovation and the quickest, most tearful exit I have seen from a cathedral choir.
And listen here to more of the service.