December 2018 concert critique

December 1st is a bit early to get into the Christmas mood, but what better way to do so than to attend such an enlightened selection as Ember Choral presented last night. First and foremost the choice of pieces must be for the enjoyment of the singers – singers enjoying their singing automatically brings enjoyment to their audience – and I envied the menu that your artistic directors assembled for you.

There are those who do not place John Rutter close to the top of their favourite choral composers, but there is no doubting his creative range and his sincerity. I thought When Icicles Hang was very effective and certainly a work for ‘the singer’. I had not heard his Gloria before. You sang it well, but my strongly embedded upbringing in singing at Mass does not make me a fan of turning the liturgy into such concert works. Perhaps Mozart and Verdi get away with though!

Handel is on a different plain and the Hallelujah Chorus swells any chorister’s chest – literally and emotionally. And it swelled the audience’s chests too! The church’s acoustics did not do you the greatest of favours and it would be interesting to see how it would sound at St. Andrew’s.

You chose two of my favourite carols. Though having sung it many times, I had not heard Past Three O’clock sung live before, and you get a very different perception of it in the audience. It suited you very well. The Sussex Carol always brings cheerfulness – and so you did.

There is certainly a place in such concerts for pieces like the Christmas Festival and A Merry Little Christmas. May yours be Merry and perhaps even more than little!

Thank you for a fulfilling evening.

Julian Rye

December 2nd, 2018

 

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