Great singing from a wonderful ensemble

Hadleigh Choral Society, St Mary's Church, Hadleigh, Saturday, November 22 The dark instrumental opening of John Rutter's Requiem, with its relentless drum beat, introduces the Requiem Aerternam.

Hadleigh Choral Society, St Mary's Church, Hadleigh, Saturday, November 22

The dark instrumental opening of John Rutter's Requiem, with its relentless drum beat, introduces the Requiem Aerternam. Choir and instruments alike capture the feeling of desolation caused by bereavement. However, it is not long before the trademark Rutter tunefulness shines through and lifts the music onto a cheerful plain.

As the music alternates between despair and hope so too does the text move from the Latin to verses from the Psalms, sung in English. Each section contains lovely solo instrumental interludes and the Pie Jesu and final Lux Aeterna were sung, with a pure, light soprano voice by Barbara Astell.

When trying to capture the flavour of a concert it is often made difficult by the necessity of giving credit to a long list of people. But in this case, I shall do just that because they all deserve a special mention.


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Hadleigh Choral Society is a well focused ensemble. It has a wonderful collective sound that is beautifully balanced and is a credit to their excellent conductor, Christopher Phelps. If I have any slight reservation I would say that sometimes their word endings sound like shot gun pellets; but I know from experience that most conductors spend a life-time trying to persuade their choirs to pronounce the final syllables.

The first-rate instrumental group - Debbie Rogers (flute), Rob Rogers (oboe), Martin O'Brien (cello), Deian Rowlands (harp) and Adam Morris and Kate Love (percussion).

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John Cooper is the Choir accompanist and he did a magnificent job on the electric organ as well as playing a solo on the pipe organ of the Psalm-Prelude, Set 2, No.1 by Herbert Howells. The piece reflects the pain of the death of Howell's nine year old son.

The unifying thread of Psalms continued with a joyous singing of Mendelssohn's “He, watching over Israel” from Elijah and an ebullient organ accompaniment.

“The Lord is my Shepherd” by Gelineau was charmingly arranged for four-part harmony by Christopher Phelps.

Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms concluded the splendid programme and, maintaining the high standard of performance, Timothy Travers-Brown sung the haunting countertenor solo part with a spine-tingling clarity, whilst four soloists from the choir brought the concert to a fitting close.

Judith Newman

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