Silver Jub-Elation all over again – Music composed by Hitchin teenager to be performed once more for first time in 40 years

PUBLISHED: 10:02 07 May 2017

Andrew Weight outside St Mary's on Monday with an original score of Silver Jub-Elation and a new copy. Picture: Chris Ambler

Andrew Weight outside St Mary's on Monday with an original score of Silver Jub-Elation and a new copy. Picture: Chris Ambler

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Music composed by a Hitchin teenager to mark the Queen’s Silver Jubilee is to be performed again for the first time in 40 years, as former choristers get together for a reunion.

The St Mary's Church choir in about 1978, including Andrew Weight - second from right, middle row. Fellow reunion organiser Chris Ambler is second from left, back row. Picture: Courtesy of St Mary's Church choir reunionThe St Mary's Church choir in about 1978, including Andrew Weight - second from right, middle row. Fellow reunion organiser Chris Ambler is second from left, back row. Picture: Courtesy of St Mary's Church choir reunion

Back in 1977, 19-year-old St Mary’s Church chorister Andrew Weight wrote Silver Jub-Elation – which was performed by Hitchin Boys’ and Girls’ singers at a joint concert at St Mary’s to mark the Queen’s 25 years on the throne.

It has never been performed since, but that will change at the St Mary’s choir reunion in September – with some of the original singers on hand to help today’s choristers replicate four decades ago.

Andrew explained: “I’m trying to make the second performance, as far as is possible, a replication of the first.

“I’m seeing who from the original ‘cast’ will be around on September 9 and would, to add authenticity, be interested in joining the current choir for the performance.

A Hitchin Boys' School choir performance of Carmina Burana with Hitchin Thespians in 1976. Picture: Courtesy of St Mary's Church choir reunionA Hitchin Boys' School choir performance of Carmina Burana with Hitchin Thespians in 1976. Picture: Courtesy of St Mary's Church choir reunion

“Anyone who wants to reprise their performance of Silver Jub-Elation – albeit in a lower register, most likely! – please let me know.”

Andrew Tillett, the then-head of music at Hitchin Girls’, introduced the piece back on July 16, 1977 – and he will be returning from York to do the same again this September, using exactly the same words.

He said: “I’m delighted to be returning to Hitchin to take part in this reunion and to help in the second performance of this piece.

“It will be a real joy to share memories and music-making again with those former pupils and staff involved in the original performance 40 years ago.”

The St Mary's Church choir around 1980. Picture: Courtesy of St Mary's Church choir reunionThe St Mary's Church choir around 1980. Picture: Courtesy of St Mary's Church choir reunion

Preparations are well underway, with Andrew Weight sending copies of the score around along with CDs of the original performance – produced from a 40-year-old cassette tape.

The composer, fellow organiser Chris Ambler and current St Mary’s musical director Alan Childs ran through the organ accompaniment at the church on Monday – and Chris says it went well, ‘sounding very regal’.

A website set up in advance of the reunion features recordings by the St Mary’s choir from as far back as the 1950s, as well as choir registers from 1968 to ’78.

The reunion concert will start at 7.30pm on Saturday, September 9, with all former choristers and their families welcome.

It will form part of a wider programme of events over that weekend, with a meeting at a pub on the Friday night, an exhibition in the church earlier on the Saturday and choral evensong on the Sunday afternoon.

To find out more or get in touch, see st-marys-choir-reunion.co.uk or email info@st-marys-choir-reunion.co.uk.

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