Review: Choral Society Concert

Category: General

A new era, a new dawn and certainly a bright one.  Enter Adam Staines, Marlborough College’s new Choirmaster and therefore ex officio conductor of Choral Society.  By watching him and indeed, listening to his direction of the postponed Lent choral concert in Chapel, the future of this long-standing tradition is in very good hands indeed.  

Staines chose an interesting programme.   The opening work was Bruckner’s powerful Te Deum in which he coaxed a majestic response, brimming with drama, pathos and passion, ably supported by the choir, orchestra and soloists alike.  For some, Bruckner is an acquired taste, but it’s easy to see why he regarded his Te Deum as ‘my best work’ (a comment shared by the Viennese press upon it’s world première in 1886).  It has emotional depth, a rich and varied harmonic language and with a full orchestration it packs a punch, choir top C’s and all.  

By contrast, Mozart’s Requiem which followed seems, at times, almost intimate.  That’s not to say that it didn’t have drama too, but of a different kind.  Joe Arkwright’s (SU 2010-15) stunning trombone solo in Tuba Mirum was just sublime and with each of the excellent soloists, Michael Bundy, James Oxley, Susanna Spicer and Mary Bevan, all contributing with some ravishingly expressive lyricism, this proved to be a dynamic and engaging performance throughout.  

One other thing was rather nice too.  The Lent weather can be perishing (the reason this concert was actually postponed), but how lovely, just for once, that we celebrated this wonderful annual collaboration of ‘town and gown’ on a glorious spring day.

Philip Dukes
Artistic Director

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