Saturday 9th April at 7.30 pm
VIVALDI : GLORIA
JOSEPH HAYDN : ST NICHOLAS MASS
BOCCHERINI : SINFONIA in D Major
PURCELL : CHACONY in G minor
Review by Marjorie Ayling
Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Concert
On Saturday 9th April in all Saints' Church, Brenchley, it was a privilege to share in the celebration of a local institution's Silver Anniversary. The project was generated by local people twenty-five years ago and always driven by their desire to make music together. This impetus is what has sustained the choir through the many changes of the past quarter century and most recently the ravages of the covid pandemic.
It was a splendid evening. The programme was engaging, the choir enthusiastic and well-rehearsed, the soloists accomplished, the orchestra skilled and supportive and, above all, it was led by charismatic and masterly music director. The extensive audience of friends and family was clearly delighted to enjoy their return to excellent music making in their own community. The organisation was impeccable - clearly the product of some seriously committed individuals and hopefully it will have raised substantial funds for their chosen charity - Tree of Hope.
There were two solo orchestral items which allowed the players to enjoy playing together. Boccherini's Sinfonia in D major opened the concert and its three short and lively movements set the tone for an evening of high-quality music making. The Purcell Chacony in G minor opened the second half of the concert and Roland Millar's consummate musicianship ensured that it plumbed the depths of emotion and colour contained in what, on the surface, could be seen as a series of repetitions of a simple bass line.
Haydn's St Nicholas Mass is one of his less well-known choral works; it is modest in scale but offers musical challenges to both choir and soloists. The four soloists, Rebecca Milford, Rebecca Hart - standing in for the indisposed Katie Macdonald - Dominic Walsh and Ian Beale not only excelled in their individual solos but provided stylish and well-balanced ensembles. The choir was confident and secure in its part singing and brought an impressive range of dynamics and articulation to the different movements. The orchestra, led by Rachel Hess, with continuo player Christopher Harris, enhanced the performance with careful and nicely judged playing.
Vivalid's Gloria has always been a favourite with many of the choir so it was appropriate that it should make an appearance in this very special evening. It demands vitality and energy as well as sensitive and subtle shaping from both singers and players. The rhythmic impetus of the faster movements was exciting if at times a little demanding and the more reflective moments with both choir and soprano soloists were beautifully managed, enhanced by well focused obligato oboe and cello solos. The final chorus of Cum sancto spiritu had enormous impact and brought the evening to an incredibly happy conclusion.
Having been involved for some fifteen years with the choir, it was a real pleasure to be invited to this special evening. I have no doubt that the choir with Roland Millar has a very bright future and I look forward to following their progress in the years to come.
Ticket price for all concerts is £10 (£12 at the door, and free entry for those under 18).
The average audience size is around 150 (although this has topped 250).
Tickets available from choir members, Brenchley Post office,
or by emailing Graham Bignell, firstname.lastname@example.org
Refreshments are available before the concerts, as well as during the interval. Doors open at 7.00pm.