1. The central work - Dona nobis pacem by Vaughan Williams. On a night like this, when two longstanding friends of the Bach Choir were also being remembered, the piece really hit me - it was spine-tingling and made the tragedy of war vivid in a way that only music can.
2. Sheffield Cathedral, following its refurbishment, is a splendid venue. Warm, bright, resonant, welcoming. Go when you can. It's got to be one of our best concert venues now! And I know they have plans for more...
3. Watching the conductor, Dr Simon Lindley - full of charisma, energy, commitment, and drawing the same from his forces. Music is about passion, communication, immediacy - and Simon embodied these. Sitting near the front of an orchestral concert, you sacrifice some of the balance between parts, but getting to watch conducting up close is a pretty good alternative.
4. Seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones. Another good reason to go out and about on what has been a pretty foggy, chilly night! Good chats with Mark, George, David, and others. And also a lovely conversation with some people who hadn't been to the Cathedral since it reopened but who were moved by the second half in particular.
5. The opening piece - Sursum corda by Elgar. A beautiful orchestral gem that we hadn't heard before. We especially enjoyed its rousing Empire tune, which all works by Elgar are of course legally obliged to have. And it set the tone beautifully for what was to come.
by Fraser & Philippa from Albion (www.albionchoir.org.uk)