St Bride's: News - The night Claire Seaton invited a few friends round...

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St Bride's: News

The night Claire Seaton invited a few friends round...

She has become an iconic figure in the choir of St Bride's Church for 25 of her 50 years. So what does she do to celebrate the occasions? She invites a few friends round for a party, of course! And some party it proved to be.

Claire Seaton not only has something of the gracious presence about her, particularly at big musical events, but is a magnificent soprano. Her interpretation of musical scores is about as highly professional as it can be. Her beautiful singing is characterised by a perfect evenness of tone, extreme agility, and, above all, is glorious to the ear. Her versatility seems to bring out an element of positivity from the music and becomes palpable to her audiences, whether she is performing in churches, cathedrals or other great concert venues like the Royal Albert Hall.

All this was evident at St Bride's, where she had invited many friends to join her. These friends included the St Bride's Orchestra, ably conducted by Matthew Morley, who also skilfully arranged some of the items we heard and indeed produced the whole concert. He seems happier with a baton in his hand than sitting before an organ console. Other friends included, of course, members of the St Bride's choir, and musicians from other London churches. A tenor from St Paul's Cathedral, jokingly muttered after the concert that he was keen to join Claire because he wanted to 'keep the neighbours happy!'

On a sweltering evening and before a crowded church, the programme was a careful mixture of old and new. The evening opened with Claire's excellent rendering of Mozart's Cantata Exsultate Jubilate KV 165, after which we enjoyed more works by Mozart, Puccini, Verdi, Delibes, and Claire's particular favourite composer, Benjamin Britten. Lloyd Webber was also represented with the soloists Nina Bennet and Emma Brain-Gabbott ensuring that the latter's Pie Jesu from his Requiem sent shivers down our spines; and a tenor from St Bride's choir, Tom Herford and bass Philip Tebb, impressed with Bizet's Au fond du temple saint from The Pearl Fishers. The final item, Mascagni's Easter Hymn from Cavalleria Rusticana, proved to be a rousing and fulfilling finale.

But it has to be said that the evening, complete with a special contribution aimed at Claire, of a Gilbert and Sullivan scene performed by The Venerable David Meara, Rector of St Bride's and Archdeacon of London, belonged to birthday girl herself. She was 'on stage' for eight of the 13 items we had the privilege of hearing. She was clearly exhausted at the end, but her beaming smile summed up the whole evening, which raised a goodly sum to help boost the St Bride's Inspire appeal to restore parts of this great church. After this concert, which appeared to shake the building, it might be an idea to check the roof!

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