Archive for August, 2018

Good to welcome Trebles from Swansea, Cardiff and Newport

The St Mary's Choir Blog

We were delighted to welcome Dr Emma Gibbins, Director of Music at St Woolos Cathedral, Newport to give a lunchtime recital on our chamber organ.

EmmaG recital

The recital included some fascinating early music, but also a highly entertaining and foot-tapping contemporary piece “Triptych” by the Dutch composer Ad Wammes, which was very popular with the audience.

In our journey through the centuries of liturgical music, we moved on to the nineteenth century, during which a significant number of composers produced large quantities of music for choirs to sing.  We were treated to the voices of a specially formed Festival Trebles’ Choir which included choristers from Newport, Cardiff, Swansea and Abergavenny.  It was greatly to their credit that in the course of just a day they were able to learn the music for Evensong, blend with each others’ voices, adapt to a new acoustic, and then produce a wonderful sound in the service.

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The St Mary's Choir Blog

Today we pass the halfway mark in our journey through musical history, and pause briefly to reflect on music of the eighteenth century.  It is common to hear disparaging comments about the music of this century, and yet there is a wealth of music out there that is unjustly neglected.  Whilst the major growth in church choirs, and therefore compositions for them, came in the nineteenth century, music of the eighteenth century deserves to be heard more often.

Our lunchtime recital today was given on the Priory’s main organ by Director of Music, Tim Pratt and included works by Brahms, Parry, Karg-Elert and Franck.


The home team, St Mary’s Priory Choir was on duty for Evensong, and sang largely music by Richard Woodward the Younger.  Born in Salisbury, and spending most of his tragically short life in Dublin, there is no doubt that Woodward was a talented composer.  Today’s Evening…

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The St Mary's Choir Blog

Our trip through the musical ages moved forward today to the seventeenth century, and some significant stylistic changes.

But first, our lunchtime recital, at which Aine Smith, a young soprano from Abergavenny, accompanied by Sam Bayliss on the piano, sang a varied programme of extracts from oratorios as well as British and French songs.


Aine, who has just finished her A levels and is heading off to study at Oxford, is an assured young performer who was well received by an appreciative audience. Thanks also to Sam who performed one of Mendelssohn’s “Songs without words” and “Farewell to Stromness” by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies on the piano.

After a suitable break, the Ethelbert Consort were on duty to sing Evensong.  The introit, “Why art thou so heavy, O my soul” by Loosemore sounded wonderful in the generous acoustic of the Benedict Chapel.


As the service went on, we began to…

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The St Mary's Choir Blog

Today’s festival programme started with a lunchtime recital by Eleanor Barnard, a young soprano who has just graduated from Leeds University.  She treated the audience to a well thought-out programme which included music by Purcell, Handel, Bach and Fauré.  Each piece was sing with a purity of tone and a great musicality that belied her youth, and was greatly appreciated by those who attended. As an encore we were treated to a rendition of The Ash Grove, arranged by Benjamin Britten.


Evensong tonight was sung by Collegium Loidis, a chamber choir drawn mainly from current and past students of Leeds university, conducted by Simon Pratt. They sang music from the sixteenth century, including the introit “Jesu dulcis memoria” by Tomas Luis de Victoria, William Byrd’s 2nd Service and the anthem “When David heard that Absolon was slain” by Thomas Tomkins.

Collegium Loidis

In a stroke we moved from the horizontal structures of…

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Worldwide, two thirds of people who are forced to leave their homes remain in their own country. Seeking safety but unwilling or unable to cross a border, they are largely ignored by the international community and denied the official protection afforded to refugees.

More than 40 million people are displaced within their own country. If we knew all their names, it would take us well over a year to read them aloud – even without stopping to sleep.The reasons for their displacement are many: conflict, flooding, drought, fear. But invariably, the poorest face the hardest challenges. Displacement leaves many without a safe place to call home. It increases the chances of losing out on jobs and education, and it puts people at increased risk of violence.

The UN and its member states are currently working on two new agreements on refugees and migration, yet neither will tackle the problem of internal displacement. The world can and must do better. All people on the move should be protected from harm and have a chance to rebuild their lives.

During the weekend you will be  able to view a Christian Aid Display and read how you may help and campaign for them.

On Wednesday, September 12th  at 7pm the Exhibition will be launched with public meeting at which you can hear from speakers, one with first hand experience.


Tea on the Lawn

In addition to our usual Tea on the Lawn during the Food Ferstival on September 15th, we will also have a stall selling produce baked in Holy Trinity Church Hall Kitchen by Syrian Refugees resident in Abergavenny.

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Following the  Abergavenny Anglican Churches ‘ end of  Year of Celebration of Marriage in October, we will be launching our new initiative: PROCLAIMING IT AFRESH as we move in to the church’s  Kingdom Season.

The Initiative will be launched on October 23rd with a Riding Lights production at Holy Trinity Church, Baker Street.

Gospel Street A5 flyer 2018 - WEB.jpg

People are out on the street. Another generation is looking for answers –  a rich young executive, an angry gang leader,religious fanatics streaming live, baristas, professors, YouTubers, activists, a surprising refugee and the pizza delivery bloke who bought some seriously expensive jewellery.

Despite their differences and social divisions, everyone wants to meet one extraordinary person: Jesus has arrived on their street.

There’s always trouble on the street and he’s looking to do something about it… GOSPEL STREET  is a powerful mix of theatre, comedy and spoken word –  a breath- taking ride through all the important issues of life, death… and miraculous street food. Good news with wisdom, laughter, energy and insight.

Performed by the Riding Lights Theatre Company, this new production telling the Gospels in a modern way, is being staged at Holy Trinity Church on October 23. Tickets for the event will shortly be available from 7 Corners, Seven Corners Lane, Abergavenny.

Speaking about this new Mission Initiative , Sub Prior Fr Tom Bates says:

The Church is called to ‘proclaim the Gospel afresh in every generation’ and in our churches we are greatly blessed to have a great variety of gifted people who tell stories in different ways, be that through visual art, flowers, textiles, preaching, music, and performance.

I hope that the coming year will be one of reinvigorating and enhancing that principal here in this place, and equipping our members to proclaim the Good news afresh with the gifts God has given them.

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The St Mary's Choir Blog

At 7.50am a bleary-eyed minibus party complaining about being tired gathered at St Mary’s; quite remarkably nobody was late, and by 7.55 we were on the road.  The roadworks in Gloucester that had caused so much disruption yesterday were finished, and we sailed into the city centre without delay. As it was a Sunday, we were allowed to park in the cathedral close which made loading the van at the end of the day much easier.

We then went straight to the cathedral to rehearse for the Eucharist at 9.30, with just enough time to nip back to the Education Centre to put surplices on before the service started at 10.15.  Most of the service was very familiar, with just a little confusion about taking communion!  The communion motet went really well, and sounded wonderful in the acoustic.

After the morning service there was time for a quick cup of…

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Yesterday ringers from across the Dioceses of Monmouth and Llandaff rung the Priory Bells to mark the 70th Anniversary of their Dedication.


The Bells were erected in 1948 to celebrate victory at the end of World War 2.

The ringing yesterday morning was a peal of 5039 changes of Grandsire Caters rung by members of the Llandaff and Monmouth Diocesan Association of Church Bellringers to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Dedication of the bells of St Mary’s.  Eight of the ten ringers were from the Monmouth Branch of the Association.

The band comprised:
Helen Phillips. (Conductor)
Andrew Phillips
Barry Hayman
Anne Hayman
Jonathan Lewis
Matthew Turner
Michael Hoult
Peter Munday
David Moore
Harriet Moncrieff


St Mary’s has a thriving group of bell ringers, who meet to practise at 7pm on Monday evenings. The bells are rung before the 11am Parish Eucharist on Sundays and also at weddings and other special occasions. Bell ringers from all over the country visit St Mary’s to ring.

If you fancy a rewarding new hobby, or have rung before and would like to come back, come and see us on a Monday evening.

If you would like more information about bell ringing at St Mary’s, please contact: Mike Hoult (Tower Captain)
Tel: 01873 852427 or email:mike.hoult1@btinternet.com

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The Pen-ultimate day

The St Mary's Choir Blog

With many of the adults deciding to stay in Gloucester, we decided it would be easier to go straight there, and rehearse in the Education Centre.  So at 9.00 the minibus left St Mary’s on what should have been a fairly straightforward journey.  And so it was until we got two miles out of Gloucester.  Whilst the treblettes were busy informing us “I can see the cathedral!”, we were gloomily observing a long queue of traffic.  It turned out that the Highways Agency had decided that today was the day to close the main road into Gloucester and resurface it.  So we sat and inched our way forward and, not being able to go in on the usual road, went round the bypass (eventually) and into the centre of Gloucester, and thus, finally to the cathedral. So our rehearsal started about 30 minutes late.


This was unhelpful as we had…

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The St Mary's Choir Blog

Today had to start quite early as we had no organist, so that duty fell to the Director of Music and that in turn meant that we had to get to Gloucester for 9.00 to take advantage of the small amount of time allowed for organ practice, which has to finish by 10.00 am.  So at just past 8.00, we set off as far as the station to pick up Emily, and then on up the dual carriageway to Gloucester.

Here, the organ was duly practised and Simon rehearsed the choir before haring back to Abergavenny to play the organ for a funeral.  Back in Gloucester we turned our attention to other music, specifically the pieces by Woodward that we are singing tomorrow.  These may not have been sung since the late 1700s, and the 1771 editions are in Gloucester Cathedral Library, from which our edition was created.  Here’s a…

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