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Past Events

Easter Vestry - reports for which can be found attached below.

May Fayre - poster attached below.

An Evening with Gerard McChrystal - see review opposite. 


An Evening with Gerard McChrystal

All Souls Church, Harlech Crescent, Tycoch, Swansea

The always-welcoming and acoustically perfect interior of All Souls provided an ideal venue for Gerard McChrystal, an immensely charismatic and talented saxophonist from Derry in Northern Ireland whose reputation for drawing the most extraordinary, haunting sounds out of the instrument stretches worldwide.

Having never before encountered the skills of McChrystal, I was unsure what to expect - being familiar with jazz saxophonists it was hard to predict how the concert would work within a Church.

In the event, after the usual humorous introduction from the Reverend Phillip Gwynn, McChrystal – who had a held a workshop earlier in the day with players from the Church’s Saxophone Workshop, led by Director of Music Lynne Novis, the result being that they joined him on stage and clearly relished the chance to play alongside a world-class musician - had the audience enchanted from the moment he began to play, and demonstrated the amazing breadth of sounds that can be teased out this versatile and emotive instrument.

The most fascinating aspect of the concert – apart from the music itself -  was that McChrystal conveyed his own knowledge of the history of the saxophone and its technical aspects to a crowd who were more than eager to learn: in a sense, this was almost like attending a masterclass, albeit a very entertaining and engaging one.

McChrystal was also joined at one stage by his nine year-old daughter Annie, who accompanied him on the piano to the immense pleasure of the audience.

Given the fact that he is asthmatic (and more than happy to admit the fact) his levels of stamina and  breath control are phenomenal: a great role model for anyone who faces what might be regarded by some as a supposedly “debilitating” condition, he also proved adept at choosing a selection of works that demonstrated his own range and the extent to which the saxophone itself can be pushed.

The programme included several pieces from Debussy which proved to be utterly bewitching, focusing as they did on the instrument’s less raucous and high-powered side, and the Adaggio by Leonardo Vinci (without the “Da”, as he informed us with a twinkle in the eye), Bozza Aria and a fascinating work originating from an Australian composer which sets out to re-create a range of sounds from the natural world.

There was also a more abstract and deliberately discordant piece entitled Chicken, the title of which is self-explanatory, as well as some lighter popular tunes to end the evening: these included a couple of pieces originating from The Fairer Sax and even more familiar numbers including Money, Money, Money and Ain’t She Sweet.

A thoroughly diverting and enjoyable evening spent in the company of a true master – there could have been no better way to seek solace on such an inclement “summer” evening.

Graham Williams