Conductor: Grayston Ives
(Magdalen College, Oxford)
Organist: Christine Wells
(St Mary the Virgin, Hambleden)
Preacher: The Revd. Malcolm Macnaughton
(Rector, St Mary the Virgin, Hambleden)
St Mary the Virgin, Hambleden
| Jesus shall take the highest 
42 & 43
Magnificat & Nunc in F 
There is a land of pure delight 
Praise, my soul, the King of heaven
| Bowater arr. Ives
Report on the Festival by Ginny Batchelor-Smith:
The picturesque village of Hambleden is accustomed to weekend visitors clad in anoraks and walking boots, but Saturday, 5th March was different. Over a hundred choristers representing 13 parish churches from Goring to Harpsden and from Kidmore End to Wargrave gathered in St Mary's Church to rehearse and sing a service of Festival Evensong organised by the Royal School of Church Music in Oxfordshire. In so doing, they proved that choral church music is flourishing in the Thames-side parishes of Henley, Sonning and Wycombe Deaneries, with encouraging numbers of young people keeping the tradition alive. So it was the rainbow hues of choir robes billowing in the icy wind that caught the eye as the singers proceeded from the village hall to take part in the service.
Seldom do choirs have the opportunity to perform works under the guidance of the composer but, on Saturday, Grayston Ives chose his own arrangement of Jesus shall take thehighest honour as the introit. It was followed later by his anthem, There is a land of pure delight, which was commissioned in 2000 by All Saints' Church, Rotherfield Peppard, in memory of Vernon Openshaw, their organist of 43 years. Under Ives's sensitive handling, the choir responded positively, and projected a definitive rendering of the conductor's own anthem. They also coped well with unfamiliar psalm pointing, often a stumbling-block, bringing out the words with crystal-clear diction. The young voices were at their very best in the triumphant descant Ives had added to the familiar hymn Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven.
Lessons were read by Maureen Lawson representing the RSCM Oxfordshire committee and by Nigel Wallington upon whom much of the preparation work had fallen.
The Rector of Hambleden, the Revd. Malcolm Macnaughton, was the Officiant and Preacher, and prayers were led by the Revd. Brendan Bailey, Rector of the Nettlebed group of parishes. The organist was Christine Wells who concluded the service with a fine performance of Processional, a voluntary composed by Grayston Ives.