It is always exciting to be present at the premiere of a new musical work and Weymouth Choral Society’s musical director, Helen Brind assembled ninety singers and musicians for the spectacular launch of a delightful Requiem composed by the choir’s resident accompanist Louise Dukes.

The polished performance took place at St John’s Church in Weymouth and the Weymouth Choral Society choir was joined by members of the Portland Singers, The Aliquando Ensemble and young guest musicians from the Dorchester Area Schools Partnership (DASP).

Dukes’ Requiem was an uplifting celebration of the gift of eternal life after death – a work of the calibre to join the ranks of celebrated composers of the genre. It is not often that Weymouth can host the performance of such an accomplished debut choral work by one of its own.

The occasion was all the more poignant as Dukes composed the requiem as a tribute to the late, much–loved Fran Davies, a long-serving member of the Portland Singers, and wife of its former director, Albert Davies, who accepted a personal presentation to mark the occasion.

Dukes describes her Requiem as ‘intentionally melodic and designed not to be heavy in instrumentation,’ and the choir was supported primarily by the cello of Hannah McFarlane, the organ, played by David Bruce-Payne and the keyboard, played by Dukes herself.

The refreshing style of Dukes’ Requiem provided an interesting contrast to the second part of the performance : the Requiem of John Rutter which gave scope to exceptionally skilful individual performances by members of the Aliquando Ensemble and DASP.

It was a triumphant debut for Dukes and her work is sure to become part of the standard requiem repertoire.