Don’t go to a Concentus concert expecting a complete performance of Handel’s “Messiah”.
At their St. Saviour’s evening on Saturday December 15 we certainly received a cracking “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s masterpiece, but that was simply the twenty-first item in a very varied programme.
The sopranos seemed quite at ease as their music climbed ever higher, and visiting organist John Ross made the organ sing and dance as required, so the entire work would clearly have been within their capabilities, but it is the very rich mixture (which always characterises their presentations) that packs the venue, even when the rain is driving horizontally outside.
Guests included Stephen Lloyd, M.P. and Jill Parker, M.B.E., whose JPK charity is supported by the Choir. Pianist Anthony Wilson skilfully accompanied many of the pieces performed.
After “The Holly and the Ivy” we had “Do You Hear what I Hear?”, a charming work by Noel Regney (1922-2002), a French composer who emigrated to New York. Solos were sung by Jo Fowler and Louise Soper, respectively Assistant Conductor and Assistant Musical Director.
Such versatility enabled Musical Director Adrian White to leave the podium on occasions to share some of the vocals.
There really was something for everyone. The comic items were presented in swiftly-adopted fancy dress, whereas in a choral excerpt from Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” Choir and Organ were disciplined and respectful. In two Christmas Carols the audience rose and sang along. The choir gave a fine performance of Sullivan’s “The Lost Chord” in which John Ross was “seated one day at the organ”. And in Adrian White’s arrangement of “It came upon a Midnight
Clear” Gay Hyde was a melifluous soloist.
One last example will demonstrate what a memorable evening was enjoyed by all. The last piece before an interval in which hot mince-pies and wine were available was Cy Coleman’s “Rhythm of Life”, from “Sweet Charity”.
Coleman was born Seymour Kaufman in 1920, and became a distinguished American jazz pianist and songwriter.
With pianist Anthony Wilson, the choir gave a sparkling performance in which every word was clearly audible.
That was typical of the entire evening. Congratulations Concentus!
By Robin Gregory