Special concert honours church pair

First published in Entertainments

TRIBUTE CONCERT, ST THOMAS'S CHURCH, SALISBURY

THE choir and organists of St Thomas’s Church, Salisbury turned out in impressive force on Sunday for a concert honouring the memory of two very special people in the musical life of the church.

Garnet Swatridge, who died in 2011 aged 88, was the director of music and organist for 42 years until 2000.

Chris Dempster was a chorister from 1984 to 1996, who died tragically early last year from cancer.

The programme of organ and choral pieces covering seven centuries contained many of Garnet’s favourites, as well as the beautiful elegy O Lord Hear My Plea, composed by John Dempster, the current director of music, in memory of his son, Chris.

While the concert paid its fond respects, it was also an uplifting occasion thanks to the passion and vibrancy of the choir and the expert playing of organist David Power, assistant organist Ute Schwarting, and organ scholar Ben Maton.

Other young soloists were Robert Blakey, Lizzie Davidson and Ruth Price who superbly met the challenges of Allegri’s heartrending Miserere. Lizzie also led the choir in an impassioned account of Mendelssohn’s Hear My Prayer.

The large and responsive audience generously contributed to a retiring collection that raised nearly £2,000. These proceeds will go to the church and to Orchid, a charity based at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London that funds research and treatment of male cancer.

John Cox

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