A concert for refugees from heroic little Belgium

Yesterday we reported the upcoming concert at Reading Town Hall, now discover how it went:

As briefly reported in our December issue, the concert given under the auspices of our Church Choir and Brotherhood Choir on November 25th last proved a most gratifying success, all concerned, performers and audience alike doing their part in a manner worthy of the occasion, – the occasion being the raising of money towards a special Christmas Fund in aid of the Belgian refugees in the town. The Mayor (Mr Leonard Sutton, JP) graced the proceedings and at an interval in the programme delivered a short speech. His Worship said he would like to express the gratification all felt at the effort being made that evening on behalf of the unfortunate refugees from heroic little Belgium, and he assured the Belgians who had come to Reading, and of whom there were a good number in the hall that night, that no effort would be spared to make their stay in the town as happy as possible.
With characteristic generosity the conductor of the choirs (Mr F. W. Harvey) had arranged a programme of almost too ample proportions, but the audience evidently were out to enjoy themselves and few left before the close.
Dealing with the work of the choirs it may be said that the Church Choir well maintained its reputation, singing a number of part-songs in excellent style. “The Viking Song” (Coleridge-Taylor), “Hymn To Music” (Dudley Buck), and “The Vagabonds” and “Our Island Home” (Eaton Faning), all of the vigorous order, were rendered with expressive enthusiasm, and a tuneful part-song by Parry, “Sweet day, so cool”, a competition test piece for which the choir gained first prize at the Crystal Palace last year, was given in a very finished manner.

As for the Brotherhood Choir, the members quite excelled themselves, and their trainer is to be congratulated upon the progress the musical Brothers have made. At present they have more “go” than restraint, but such a fault is not incurable, and in time the choir should become a very useful body of singers. Perhaps their best number was “Comrades Song Of Hope” (Adama) given with commendable vigour, and receiving a well-deserved encore. Other pieces were Dudley Buck’s “In Absence”, the familiar “Soldier’s Farewell” (Kinkel) and Gounod’s “Hymn to Apollo”, this last a part-song which won for the Choir a first prize in the Brotherhood contest last summer at Bristol.
Of the soloists appearing at the concert pride of place must be accorded to Madame Helene Feltesse, a Belgian artiste from the Theatre Royal, Brussels, and other continental resorts, but at present sharing the fate of her fellow country-people, and seeking refuge in England. Madame Feltesse, who possesses a brilliant soprano voice, combined with an intensely dramatic temperament, was most cordially received by the house, and sang with thrilling effect an air from Massenet’s “Le Cid”, and also a song by Puccini, “Preghiera di Tosca”, for both of which the artiste was enthusiastically recalled.
A refugee compatriot of Madame Feltesse, M. Francois Gilliard, a violinist of considerable skill, played the popular “Berceuse” (Godard), “Le Cygne” (Saint-Saens), and “Meditation” (Massenet) and with each number quite charned the audience.
The other soloists were well-known local artistes, and all sang most acceptably.

Mrs E. Dracup gave an excellent interpretation of the soprano song, “O Peaceful Night” from Cowen’s “St John’s Eve”, and Mr Allan Frame was responsible for “Let me like a soldier fall” (Wallace), an old tenor song seldom heard now-a-days, and “The Reason” (Teresa del Riego), with both songs achieving distinct success.
Bass solos were rendered in artistic style by Mr H. R. Bennett, his selections being “The Little Admiral” (Brewer) and “Is she not passing fair” (Elgar), and in the well-known duet “The Battle Eve” (Bonheur), Mr Bennett was joined by Mr Frame with quite happy results.
An item anticipated with some interest was the first performance of a new song of the patriotic type entitled “The Call Answered”. The composer is a local lady, Miss B. Morris, and while not exactly bearing the stamp of musical genius, the song and its chorus possess melody and rhythm, and as sung by Mr Harvey and his “Brothers”, proved greatly to the liking of the audience.
The popular quintette from German’s “Merrie England”, “Love is meant to make us glad”, formed a pleasant variation in the programme, and was effectively rendered by Mrs E. Dracup and Mrs G. F. Attwood, and Messrs G. F. Attwood, H. R. Bennett and F. W. Harvey.
It should be mentioned that the audience had their share in the evening’s music, joining heartily in the singing of the National Anthem, the hymn “Eternal Father, strong to save”, and the Belgian National Song, “La Brabanconne”.
Mr F. W Harvey conducted his Choirs throughout the evening with his customary ability and enthusiasm, and the duties of accompanist were efficiently carried out by Miss Green and Mr H. B. Harvey.
Great praise is also due to the indefatigable Hon. Secretary of the Choir, Miss L. Bloomfield, for all the hard work she put in to make the organisation of the concert so completely successful.
We understand that Mrs Phippen kindly supplied the floral decorations, and the grand piano was lent free of charge by Messrs Attwells, Binfield & Co.
It gives us the greatest pleasure to inform our readers that the total receipts from the concert amounted to the handsome sum of £67 13s and a cheque for this amount without deduction for any expenses (which had been met out of the Choir’s own funds) was handed to the Mayor to help make Christmastide for our Belgian brothers and sisters a happy time.
Vive la Belgique!

Broad St Magazine, January 1915 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: