A beautiful sound in the cathedral

St Edmundsbury Cathedral Choir, Bury St Edmunds Festival, St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Sunday May 23

As the choir processed slowly down the aisle singing the atmospheric processional Veni Creator Spiritus you couldn’t help but reflect on both the splendour of this building and the beauty of the sound which was being made.

The programme pointed out very clearly that the Cathedral Choir consists of amateur volunteers, but, under their distinguished director James Thomas, the standards achieved are exceptional, and this concert, part of the Bury Festival, gave a large and appreciative audience a varied taste of what they can do.

There are obviously some lovely individual voices in the choir, but the balance achieved and the overall tone of the choir was really impressive. With entertaining and relaxed introductions from their director the concert ranged from samples of our Tudor heritage (Gibbons and Tallis) to two attractive pieces by S S Wesley, and some modern church music from Jonathan Dove – two contrasting pieces from his Missa Brevis.

And there was secular music too – a lovely performance of a 16th century madrigal by John Farmer, and a gorgeous rendition of ‘Smoke gets in your eyes’ by Jerome Kern. Much of the concert was ‘a cappella’ but occasional accompaniments – and an organ interlude – were beautifully and sensitively played by Assistant Director of Music David Humphreys.

The choir finished with the recessional The day thou gavest, Lord is ended, bringing to a close a most enjoyable concert which served as a reminder that, in the Cathedral Choir, we have a musical jewel in our midst.

Wynn Rees

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