The EAC welcomed the Mayor of Reigate and Banstead, Cllr Roger Newstead and his wife Mary, to a very special concert on July 22nd at St Mary’s Church in Reigate, as they said farewell to the Chorale’s brilliant accompanist for the past 17 years, Ian le Grice. The concert programme, thoughtfully conceived by Ian’s long-time colleague, EAC Artistic Director Leslie Olive, included a variety of cheerful and uplifting choral music from the 16th to the 21st centuries (Tallis through to Lauridsen and Whitacre), with Brahms’ enchanting Lieberslieder Waltzes featuring strongly. Ian treated the audience to his considerable keyboard virtuosity with a Brahms Intermezzo for piano, invigorating and impressive organ pieces by Bach, Handel and Gigout, and an encore of the Haydn Musical Clock pieces which were a delight.
Ian has been organist of Reigate St. Mary’s Choir School for some 20 years, during which time he has accompanied mid-week services at St. Mary’s Church sung by the Godfrey Searle Choir and also when they sang Evensong in Surrey churches and occasionally at cathedrals. He is accompanist to the St Cecilia Chorus and Croydon Philharmonic Choir, of which he is also a Vice President. In 2012 he retired from the Temple Church in London, where he was Assistant Organist for 30 years.
When St. Mary’s Church decided to restore its fine organ as part of its Community Building Project, Ian was asked to join the committee set up to raise funds. He finds it immensely gratifying that the organ will soon be able to be used again, sounding as it did when installed in 1911. When asked about the EAC, Ian replied, “It is possibly the finest secular choir for many miles around. When you play in a concert with a good choir or orchestra it is a wonderful experience. It has been a privilege and pleasure to work with Leslie Olive and accompany the EAC, and although my link with the choir will be loosened, it will not be broken.”
Following the concert, the Mayor and audience were invited to a presentation and speeches in Ian’s honour, accompanied by strawberries (kindly provided by Sainsbury’s) and Prosecco. Leslie Olive spoke in glowing terms of how Ian, while not only a consummate musician, was also a raconteur capable of holding an audience spellbound for long periods. Ian himself thanked Leslie for the opportunity to work with the EAC and promised to return to lend a hand whenever possible, as well as to perform, as he will do in March 2018 for the organ concert to celebrate the refurbishment of St. Mary’s organ.