Report and photograph by Donato Tallo
On Thursday 24th November 2016 The First of the 2016/2017 series of Anglo-Portuguese Ensemble concerts took place at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Warwick Street, Central London, which is the home of the Central London Ordinariate group.
The Ensemble is a string formation made up of young musicians from both Portugal and the United Kingdom who have their resident base at the church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, and the beautiful church has both a very rich and vibrant history and is a place of prayer, worship and fellowship right in the heart of London’s West End. It is highly fitting that the church has become the resident base of the Anglo-Portuguese Ensemble and fantastic that the concert events are taking place there, as the site where the Church and Presbytery are currently located was once the site of the Portuguese Embassy in London.
Having being formed just a little over three years ago the Anglo-Portuguese Ensemble events started as a very small idea that has expanded into a wonderful venture. The Anglo-Portuguese Ensemble strives to generate both fellowship and friendship through the many excellent and varied concerts the musicians perform.
The concert on the 24th November was entitled Casual Classics and over one hundred and twenty people filled the pews of the church to listen to the Ensemble play a number of musical works that were both highly uplifting and pleasing to one’s ears. The audience enjoyed music by Purcell, Tchaikovsky and Freitas Branco and the expressions on the faces of those present quite clearly showed enjoyment. The candles on the high altar and the side altar devoted to St Gregory burned brightly and a sense of peace and tranquility filled the church as the beautiful music filled the house of God. A thundering round of applause was given to the musicians at the end of the concert, all of whom put in a great deal of effort and practice in order to perform to the high standards which they continually do.
After the concert had finished, drinks and light refreshments were served in the parish hall below the church which has recently been extensively refurbished and still has a few finishing touches to be completed, which will be undertaken prior to the official opening early in the new year. The hall was full to bursting with lots of pleasant conversations taking place over some most enjoyable wine, soft drinks and refreshments.
Fr Mark Elliott-Smith, Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory in Warwick Street, said “now in its third year we at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory are delighted to have the Anglo-Portuguese Ensemble make use of this beautiful church and its facilities as their resident base, the musicians are hugely talented and this venture enables us to deepen our historic links with the Portuguese Community. It was a particular joy to welcome the new Portuguese Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Manuel Lobo Antunes, to the fantastic event on the 24th November and we look forward to the continuation of a cordial relationship that was started by his predecessor who has now retired”.
Adding to the positive comments of Fr Elliott-Smith, Monsignor Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, said “It is a real delight and a joy to have the Anglo-Portuguese Ensemble performing at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory. The concert on 24th November was a fantastic start to the new series and it is truly fantastic that while centred on the music the concerts are about far more than just the beautiful music performed by the Ensemble; it is about the fellowship and generating of friendships and relationships that this venture has already started and will continue to expand on”.
A huge amount of work is put in by the musicians and many others to make these events possible and a number of further concerts in this current series have been planned and the Ensemble’s website has detailed information of the forthcoming concerts; please visit: http://www.apensemble.org for more information. Please do also search for the Ensemble on Facebook where the Ensemble’s page has lots of information.
If you are in easy reach of Central London, why not consider attending one of the forthcoming concerts? You can be assured of a warm welcome and some fantastic music, an opportunity to socialise over delicious refreshments and a visit to one of Central London’s most beautiful churches.
(Pictured with the musicians are Fr Mark Elliott-Smith, parish priest, Manuel Lobo Antunes, the new Portuguese Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Rt Rev Monsignor Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, and Fr Marcos Pinto, Portuguese Chaplain in London.)
Here is an example of the Ensemble’s music from a previous concert: