St Mary’s Church. Dorchester

TWO for the price of one, that is what the audience enjoyed at the Thomas Hardye Singers annual concert that took place on Remembrance Day and was organised by the town’s school at which the Imperial College Symphony Orchestra performed under the guidance of their conductor Richard Dickins.

The school singers were augmented by students from three local middle schools as well as adults to create a harmonious choir that got the evening off to an emotional start with Finzi’s Lo, the Full, Final Sacrifice, which captured the mood of the evening with its plaintive choral melody.

The orchestra of university students was augmented by young local musicians who then played Rutter’s Mass of the Children, a modern work in which two local soloists, Louise Wayman and Martin Weston, gave sensitive performances.

The full orchestra then showed off their skills with bravura when they played four extracts from Bizet’s opera Carmen with a stunning display of youthful enthusiasm while the final work was Wagner’s famous Prelude to the Meistersinger.

Conducting of the orchestra was shared by local musician Peter Oakes who rounded off the evening by paying homage to Richard Dickins who has announced his retirement from the ICSO after 40 years, an amazing achievement.

As a special tribute for his much appreciated efforts in supporting the Thomas Hardye singers over the years, the concert concluded with a surprise performance of Faure’s Cantique de Jean Racine, a favourite of Richard Dickins whose loyal support for young Dorchester musicians will be greatly missed.