Review: Chamber Choir Concert – Ramsbury

Taking Marlborough College music out into our local community is important for so many reasons, not least because the public can witness for themselves the array of talent that exists within the Music Department.  

The Chamber Choir’s concert at Holy Cross Church, Ramsbury was a perfect demonstration of just that, in a programme of immense variety and colour.  Directed with precision and flair by outgoing Choirmaster, Alex Hodgkinson, the programme was supplemented by some fine solos:  Ian Crabbe putting the excellent Ramsbury organ through its paces in a Bach Fugue and Elgar’s Chanson de nuit, James Bartlett producing a ravishing sound in Bach’s Schlummert ein, and Music Scholar, Christopher Beswick (C1 L6) showing maturity and finesse beyond his years in four movements from Schumann’s stunning Dichterliebe.

The choir also rose splendidly to the occasion – highlights being the very opening work A Hymn for St Cecilia by Herbert Howells, which was brimming with long sustained musical shapes and nuance, Rutter’s For the beauty of the earth (many a knowing smile of enjoyment here in both performers and audience), and Skempton’s extraordinary The Flight of Song – an imaginative start to the second half.  What struck me, however, over and above everything were two things that made this performance really special, and they were balance and dynamics.  The balance was superb – all the time – and the dynamics were judged to perfection: plenty of light and shade and those special intimate moments of pianissimo created some real magic.  The only blemish on the evening came before the concert began when, as the choir relaxed in the churchyard, a bird passing overhead unleashed an unwanted ‘gift’ on a distinguished member of our Lower Sixth.  Most unfortunate indeed, but all part of life’s rich tapestry, I suppose.

Philip Dukes
Artistic Director

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