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Duruflé Requiem

& Other French Masterpieces

All Saints' Church, Eastbourne, February 2024

Our reviewer was sadly unable to attend the concert at the last moment, but here instead are the musing/reflections of our MD in the days after the concert, as addressed to the choir:

Dear Phoenix,


I still have all that magnificent music in my head 🎶, the sweet sounds you made in my ears and the lovely looks on your faces in my heart. ❤️


It was a wonderful concert.  You worked so hard to get there and, in the event, we all pulled together to make it through any little hesitations or hiccups that came our way.  Working with the organ can be a challenge for both the choir and the organist, but in the end, the Requiem was deep and meaningful in its stately passage and there were very few moments that put us off our stroke.  The organ and choir balanced nicely, and with your confidence, Ansy and Clare’s sensitive partnership in Pie Jesu, Chris’s assured solos, Andrew’s adept finger-work and Gavin’s discrete support, we all had a marvellous time.


Thank you! 🙏


This really was the best choral sound I have heard in Eastbourne.  This particular blend of the Maastricht and Eastbourne branches of Phoenix took us to a new collective height.  Never have we had such a wonderfully secure and suave tenor section, or such a happy and resonant alto team.  The basses were warm and comforting, the sopranos exquisite and exciting - especially on their high notes! 😉


As always, Gavin was wonderful.  I think the two piano-accompanied pieces in the first half really touched the audience (and me).  They were confident and full of heart.  But perhaps the best piece of the evening was your superb rendition of Ubi Caritas.  You all sang a cappella so beautifully?  It was utterly lovely.  Let’s have more of that!


Our wonderful soloists added their cherries to the cake, each with their own characterful choices of music and magical deliveries transporting us heaven-wards.


As you will have heard, many people in the audience had heart-warming compliments for us.  It was a good-sized and good-natured audience, with many dear friends and family among them, all of which raised our spirits and our game.  Well done for bringing them out to share our special event with us 👍


The joys of this triumphal moment in our history will stay with us for a long time.


My gratitude and appreciation go to you all.





Phoenix Choir’s next programme has a distinctly French flavour. At its heart is what is recognised as a unique work of art and a masterpiece ~ Duruflé’s much loved requiem.

Prior to going to conservatoire Duruflé had been immersed in sacred music and had a fascination for plainchant. His wife even said that he ‘truly had a Gregorian soul’.  The requiem took inspiration directly from the Gregorian funeral mass as well as the work of previous French composers such as Franck, Debussy, Ravel and Fauré. Duruflé’s intention was in his own words 'to reconcile, as far as possible, Gregorian rhythm…with the exigencies of modern meter.' He also took the sophisticated harmonies of the early modern school to enhance the sometimes-archaic sounding melodies. This performance will be accompanied by his organ reduction which clearly lends itself to a church setting with its colour and distinctly sacred sound. 

Duruflé only published fourteen works which is perhaps not so surprising given that composition for him, was a slow, meticulous but exceptional process. Over a decade after his requiem, Duruflé returned to the distinctive plainchant style in his Quatre Motets sur des thèmes grégoriens, which includes the beautiful setting of the Ubi Carita also included in the programme. 

Under the baton of Michael Fields, Phoenix and it's Maastricht counterpart will again join forces with a stellar lineup for what promises to be a very special evening.

Phoenix Choir


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