The Wind Tunnel Project
Posted on 03 November 2022

The Chamber Choir

Following a successful Remembrance collaboration in November, the Chamber Choir and the RHUL Chapel Choir joined forces with a professional string ensemble in a concert celebrating Farnborough’s Aviation History and Space.

Opening the concert, Rupert Gough conducted the joint choirs in a sinewy, peaceful and shimmering piece by Norwegian Composer, Ola Gjeilo, called “Northern Lights’, a setting of the Song of Songs. Then came a world premier by British composer, Paul Carr, in a lush setting of the hymn text ‘Be Still My Soul.’

The Choir then moved into position behind the giant mahogany propeller and a solo sextet of RHUL students stood in front, on the raised platform, to perform a piece celebrating aviation called ‘High Flight’ by former King Singer and composer Bob Chilcott. The piece, a setting of two distinct texts, one by John Gillespie Magee, a pilot who lost his life in battle soon after writing his celebration of flight, incorporated many textures and moods; from deep oceanic chords to fast moving and rhythmically complex sections, taking the audience above the clouds.

The concert then moved into the wind tunnel itself and the audience brought their chairs into the beautifully and atmospherically illuminated space. Accompanied by projections designed by Maisie Richards, the choir and string orchestra, under the direction of Richard Robbins, played Eriks Esenvalds haunting setting of ‘I believe’ and then Ola Gjeilo’s ‘Sunrise Mass’, which in four interweaving, seamless and epic movements put the audience in mind of the vastness of space, the cathedral like acoustic adding profound depth to the sound. The choir sang with conviction and sincerity, their collective tone rich, velvety and impeccably tuned all accompanied by superlative string players, the experience was transportive.

A huge thank you to Maisie Richards, Rupert Gough and Stuart McSweeney whose calm professionalism, extensive talents and ability to react ‘on the hoof’ made the event possible.

And a final and special thanks to all the students from both Farnborough Sixth and RHUL, whose generosity with their talents was fundamental to the success of this event.

Recording Studio Manager, Maisie Richards said - “The concert was incredibly beautiful and ethereal. The choir accompanied by the strings in such an unusual and industrial setting only amplified the experience - there was not a dry eye in the tunnel when ‘I Believe’ was performed. It is one of the best concerts we have ever put on.”