from the Wokingham Times, January 2004
TO CELEBRATE the bicentenary of the birth of the French composer Hector Berlioz, Wokingham Choral Society joined forces with Windsor and Eton Choral Society to put on a concert of just one work, his Grande Messe des Morts. This was a colossal piece, written to be performed in Les Invalides in Paris and demands an orchestra of more than 100 players, four brass bands with a whole battery of drums, and a chorus of at least 250 singers.
At Guildford Cathedral, the Eton Festival Orchestra and Brass combined with the choirs under the baton of Wokingham's musical director Aidan Oliver. It will always be difficult for a conductor adequately to balance his resources in such an acoustic, but it was much to the credit of Aidan Oliver that his singers did not allow themselves to be totally overwhelmed by the orchestral forces and that they had plenty in reserve to give us some beautiful, quiet singing in Hostias and Sanctus.