A WARM, summer evening at the beautiful church of St Saviour and St Peter in Eastbourne provided the perfect setting for a summer concert by the Phoenix Choir on June 4, attended by the Mayor, Carolyn Heaps and MP Stephen Lloyd.
The choir, aptly named, as they await a new music director in the Autumn, were led by Jane Pendry, after having worked initially with Brian Newman on a musical feast of works ranging from Vivaldi to Bruckner with much to please the ear in-between.
Jane Pendry gave us some background information on the pieces as well as showing her delightful personality with some amusing and pithy anecdotes.
The evening began with Vivaldi, Domine fili unigenite and progressed to Haydn, Insanae et vanae curae and then to two unaccompanied pieces by Bruckner, Locus iste and Schubert’s Sanctus, which were well sung and phrased.
A happy addition of Telemann’s sonata in F major for Treble recorder and piano followed, beautifully played by Eileen Godier, recorder, and Brian Steer, piano. The three movements were realised with fluency and colour.
Eileen also played the accompaniment on descant recorder for Bach’s Jesu, joy of man’s desiring, which added to the beauty of this well-loved piece. Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus is always received well and ditto Cesar Franck’s Panis Angelicus.
We were then treated to the lovely singing of mezzo-soprano Rebecca Kelly, who delighted the audience with
Mendelssohn’s O Rest in the Lord and then showed off her considerable vocal skills with an aria from The Italian Girl in Algiers by Rossini; Cruda Sorte, Amor tiranno!
The second half was given over to Rutter’s melodic and emotive settings of ten folk songs, now becoming a firm favourite in any choral programme, under the heading, The Sprig of Thyme.
Phoenix chorister Karen Sinstadt sang the solo in The Cuckoo, showing some lovely, silver top notes, and personally, I loved the renditions of Down by the Salley Gardens and Afton Water.
It was a lollipop evening with something to please everyone and the choir are going from strength to strength with enthusiasm and an obvious love for singing. A resounding success for all!