Eastbourne is blessed with several fine choirs.
Concentus has a very specific agenda (well-described in the excellent printed programme), and on Saturday December 19 their Christmas concert packed Saint Saviour’s Church at 4 pm.
In the audience were the town’s dedicated and hard-working Mayor and MP and as usual the profits were to be given to the JPK Project which will provide homes for people with learning difficulties.
The programme aimed to offer “something for everyone”. No-one could claim that all the 28 items performed were of equal musical merit, but conductor Adrian White ensured that something special was discovered even in ‘The Teddy Bears’ Picnic.’ And there were musical jokes, as when “an extremely famous Christmas song” proved to be ‘Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer,’ given special treatment by David Horne, Louise Soper and Adrian himself.
Ten years ago, when the choir was born, the opening work was Rutter’s ‘Look at the World’. It opened this year’s anniversary concert too, and was followed by Mozart’s little gem, ‘Ave Verum Corpus’. Organist John Ross and the choir were clearly going to treat the “real stuff” seriously. John, indeed, was in great form, and he added many inspired personal touches. Under his hands and feet the King of Instruments really showed why it is so nicknamed, and the rafters shook to its mighty sound.
Concentus is a large choir, and just occasionally this proved a problem, as when the Lacrimosa from Mozart’s Requiem found the ladies tending to overpower the far fewer men; but in general the balance and intonation were admirable, with Adrian controlling his forces skilfully.
Colin Hughes provided many piano accompaniments where this was more appropriate than the organ, and had the knack of bringing out the best in the solo singers.
The several soloists acquitted themselves with confidence and vocal beauty. Sue Barnes, for example, sang Adolphe Adam’s ‘Cantique de Noel’ exquisitely. Maralyn Streeter showed the necessary poised legato in Mozart’s ‘Laudate Dominum’. Kath Clarke and Sue White clearly relished Humperdinck’s Evening Prayer from Hansel and Gretel. Other soloists brought many a lesser song to life: Sharon Jakeman and Steph O’Grady made the most of their solo spots.
From Handel’s Messiah the choir brought the proceedings to a rousing end with ‘Unto Us a Child is Born’. Prolonged applause, and rightly deserved!