Monday 20 May 2019

St Peter's church goes German!

St. Peter's Church in West Street hosted a marvellous night of choral delights when St. Peter's Male Voice Choir, led by Musical Director Edward Holly, was joined by Cantus Wirena from Frankfurt, who were celebrating the 175thanniversary of their founding, under the baton of Mark Opeskin.

Among the audience at a packed St. Peter's were Mayor Frank Godfrey, First Secretary at the German Embassy, Dr. Florian Rehli and Niall Higgins and Kate Leonard, representatives of Acquired Brain Injury (Ireland), to which all the proceeds of the concert went.

The concert began with the men of St. Peter's delivering a spellbinding version of "The Awakening" and other favourites. Cantus Wirena then took to the stage, thrilling the audience with a beautiful selection of German harmonies.

The two choirs then united for some of the most moving songs of the night, including a hauntingly evocative rendition of St. Peter's recent chart-topping triumph "Noreen Bawn" and a stirring recital of Wagner's "Pilgrim's Chorus", one of the most challenging works in the choral repertoire which was handled brilliantly and obtained sustained applause.

The audience demanded many encores and joined in the chorus of "Hey Jude", which echoed to the rafters. Addressing the audience, Mr. Higgins of ABI (Ireland) thanked Edward and the choir for choosing the charity to benefit from such a spectacular concert.

One of the best musical extravaganzas Drogheda has seen in a long time was brought to an end by the choirs' powerfully patriotic performances of the German and Irish national anthems.

Both choirs then sung the following morning at 11 a.m. Mass in St. Peter's and received a wonderful reception from Archdeacon Carroll and the congregation for their blend of Irish and German hymns.

Afterwards, it was time to show Cantus Wirena some traditional Irish hospitality at "The Forge" in Drumshallon. Cantus Wirena's president, Kerstin Mony, along with Herr Opeskin and Gerd Lübke, thanked everyone in the choir for making the trip possible and also the people of Drogheda for their friendliness during their time here. In a touching gesture, they made presentations to Edward and members of St. Peter's choir whose hard work made such a success of their visit, including Chairman Paul Delaney and members of the Committee.

Thanking them, Edward said "As we all know, the origins of male choral singing stem from Germany and I am thrilled to have all our German friends from Cantus Wirena in our home town of Drogheda. Their performance on Saturday night was assured and accomplished and it will live long in our memories. It was a real honour to conduct alongside Mark Opeskin from the Frankfurt Conservatory and I commend him on his choice of music and his wonderful conducting of the massed choirs". For his part, Herr Opeskin said that it was a "privilege to have worked with Edward and the wonderful St. Peter's Male Voice Choir and to have celebrated our anniversary year in their company".

A fantastic weekend was then brought to a close by a traditional Irish singalong which saw some fine solo and ensemble pieces from the members of both choirs. Wrapping up the evening, choir chairman Paul Delaney said "Cantus Wirena played host to us in Frankfurt in 2016 when we celebrated the 60thanniversary of our choir's founding and it was an honour for us to repay their generosity then by inviting them to Drogheda to sing with us. Both choirs had an amazing time here and we look forward to seeing them again soon".

Drogheda Independent