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  Wonderful night of inspiring music  Timbo at 13:44 on 02 July 2008

WHICH hits the highest? - Aida in Romeís Caracalla Baths? The Dream of Gerontius in Birmingham Town Hall? A Broadway show? Paul Simon at the NEC? Massed bands at Londonís proms? After fifty years of concerts, Iíd find it hard to go beyond that multi-facet concert of the Ushaw bi-centenary. Plain chant, polyphony superbly rendered by Durham Universityís Palatinate Voices: such beautiful young people, so gifted, so inspiring.

The second half a choral work of blinding beauty gendered by Tim Harrison, tribute
to/ inspired by Fenwick Lawson sculptures. Those lined the aisle, processed by student liturgies of generations. But here the student singers led a stately, slow progression and reflection on the sculptures, one by one: The Condemned, The Weeping Women, then The Hostage and The Scream, with Burning Bush the climax. The music, silence, candle-light, percussion virtuosic all stroked and strained the sculptures spirit, raw in each dimension.

Who would not picture decadesí seminarians, four hundred at a time not long since, praying goodness into stone and wood and glass? The Christian story, here two centuries of living it, now celebrated richly in this sculpture, music, poetry, the hearts, the minds, the spirit of our diocese. Congratulations, Ushaw. Deep gratitude Tim Harrison and all who took part. The legacy of Fenwick prays our gratitude.
Thanks be to God.

Fr John Skivington
Northern Cross OPINION
Sunday, 1 June 2008