Haydn Nelson Mass and Christmas music, Trowbridge Philharmonic Choir

A YOUNG singer stepped into the breach, at less than 24 hours notice, to sing the bass role in Haydn’s Nelson Mass, the main work in Trowbridge Philharmonic Choir’s Christmas music at St James’s Church.

Simeon Coton was at university in Cheltenham when he got the call, at 10.30 at night, to ask if he could step in to replace the advertised singer, Graham Case, in Trowbridge the following evening..

Simeon’s father Ed Coton, who was singing the tenor role in the 1798 work, drove up to Cheltenham that night and brought his son back to Wiltshire, with just the morning to prepare for the role.

The two soloists arrived at the church for the afternoon rehearsal, accompanied by Mrs Coton, who joined the altos in the choir. The Cotons have five children, all of whom have achieved at least Grade 8 in various instruments – truly a remarkably musical family.

The other soloists for the Nelson Mass were conductor Graham Dalby’s daughter Cassandra, an impressive young mezzo, and the brilliant soprano Sian Dicker, who was born in Trowbridge. Sian is currently completing her studies in the opera school at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Next year she is joining Garsington Opera as an Alvarez Young Artist, and will be covering the role of the Foreign Princess in Rusalka.

Judging from her performance at Trowbridge, she is definitely a singer to watch. She has a voice that is lyrical, beautifully flexible, and full of warmth and feeling. There’s a future Susanna for sure!

The second half was a selection of Christmas music and songs, including Vaughan Williams’ The Truth from Above, the Basque traditional carol Gabriel’s Message, and Handel’s Joy to the World. Audience participation carols included O Little Town of Bethlehem, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, and The Twelve Days of Christmas.

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