In the historical town of Petersfield, where the ancient St Peter’s Church stands proudly, 80-strong choral group Luminosa delivered a resplendent Coronation Celebration on Saturday, July 15.
Collaborating with Connaught Brass, known for their connections with pop music giants like Stormzy and Bruno Mars, Luminosa’s performance paid tribute to the majestic heritage of the church and the regal spirit of coronation anthems.
The setting couldn’t have been more fitting, with St Peter’s being more than 900 years old, steeped in royal associations, and possibly founded by Queen Matilda, wife of William the Conqueror.
Under the skilled direction of Rebekah Abbott, Luminosa stood in six tiers, framed by the church’s characteristic stone archway. The choir dressed in patriotic red, white and blue, their leader in emerald green. “Guess who didn’t get the memo,” joked Rebekah.
Connaught Brass set up in front of the choir, infusing the occasion with a sense of grandeur and ceremony.
The concert began with the playful melody of Chilcott’s Gloria, giving way to the more sombre pomp of Connaught Brass and powerful crescendos that filled every corner of St Peter’s.
A moment of moving beauty followed, as Luminosa’s chamber choir performed Michael Higgins’ choral arrangement of Nimrod from Elgar’s Enigma Variations. The audience was captivated, the air filled with hushed silence, before bursting into applause, ending with a heartfelt “bravo”.
Connaught Brass took the stage once again for the second part of the concert, opening with four movements of Handel’s Water Music, showcasing their astonishing crisp sound.
Finally, the main event arrived—the full Luminosa choir’s performance of Handel’s Coronation Anthems, with the pre-eminent Zadok the Priest as the highlight. As the choir built up to the powerful climax, the church reverberated with cries of “God Save the King, Long Live the King,” transporting the audience to the grandeur of Westminster Abbey.
The enthusiasm of the crowd led to spontaneous applause during the performance, which Rebekah gently requested to hold until the end. Nonetheless, the uninterrupted flow of Luminosa’s luscious wall of sound soon regained everyone’s attention, drowning out competing rock music from the nearby Square.
With the performance moving towards its finale, Kings Shall Be Thy Nursing Fathers, Luminosa continued to captivate the audience, leaving them yearning for more. And that’s exactly what they got, as the group returned for a rousing encore, adding an extra layer of delight to an already magnificent evening.
As the final notes subsided, and the applause filled the church, Rebekah, along with the talented performers of Luminosa and Connaught Brass, took their well-deserved bows. The audience, deeply moved by the concert, contributed generously to a retiring collection for The Fountain Centre in Guildford, in honour of a recently departed Luminosa chorister.