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Reviews 2009/10 season
"Our Favourite Things" Saturday 13 June 2009
Market Harborough Choral Society is truly democratic. Not only do they accept interested singers without audition, the singers were then allowed to choose their favourite songs for this concert. Admittedly the favourites were then voted upon, but the result was an interesting mix of music, which the large audience obviously loved.
Most of the songs were modern but there was music from Mozart and Purcell as well as Richard Rodgers, Bernstein, Jerome Kern and even Sting and George Formby! (The latter may not have recognised the song lyrics, by a choir member, Charlotta Hickie, but the banjo playing and singing by John Garratt were pure Formby).
As always the concert was a mix of music, beginning naturally enough with "My Favourite Things". MD Anselm Kersten made it clear (in one of his amusing chats to the audience) that “Sound of Music” wasn't his favourite thing, but we then moved on to such lovely songs as the unaccompanied "Autumn Leaves", the gorgeous "Gaelic Blessing" by Rutter, Sting's "Fields of Gold" and songs from "West Side Story" - and possibly my favourite, a simple and moving arrangement of "Over the Rainbow".
Among soloists were Tina Marshall who sang a traditional air, Pauline Rainey a Purcell piece, Pam Abbott the simple "Vespers" and Sarah Lupton sang Jerome Kern accompanied by Martyn Brown on the clarinet. Trevor Hazlewood tried to convince Christine that "I Remember It Well", from "Gigi". (With little success!)
We were fortunate to have Jemma Freestone, a Market Harborough music student, play the flute for us before she leaves to go to the Royal Welsh College of Music. What a talent! She deserves the MHCS sponsorship.
Thankyou MHCS, your slightly mad MD, Anselm(!) and accompanists Alan Barraclough and Christine Hodgson. You gave us a happy end to a beautiful carnival day.
by Vivien Window
Magnificat! 28 March 2009
Harborough Methodist Church
“the prolonged applause showed how much the audience had appreciated this wonderful concert”
The Choral Society, with musical director Anselm Kersten, invited members of Leicester Symphony Orchestra and the Sirocco Wind Quintet to perform in the latest concert.
So, with over 60 in the choir and a lot of musicians, the large audience had to squeeze into the Methodist Church!
Not that anyone minded with the wonderful programme of music ahead of us. It began with Insanae et Vanae Curae by Haydn from the choir. Janice Doncaster (soprano) and Clare Davies (alto) then sang movements from Stabat Mater and I think the 18th century composer Pergolesi would have approved of their soaring soprano and chocolatey alto voices.
Monteverdi’s Beatus Vir was sung by a small group accompanied by Karen Silverwood and Ann Manley on violin and John Adams on cello.
The first Magnificat, a lesser-known work by Pergolesi, led us to the interval. It was powerful and serious with soloists Helen Scott, Clare Davies, Richard Blewitt and Trevor Hazlewood adding to its beauty.
The second half was given to the singing of John Rutter’s Magnificat. He is well-known and loved for his short pieces and carols but he also composed large-scale works.
His Magnificat was first performed in 1990 at New York’s Carnegie Hall. It evokes the spirit of the exuberant Mediterranean festivals to honour the Virgin Mary – and, at times, there was even a hint of musical theatre in his tuneful, energetic piece!
Janice Doncaster and Lise Moore were soloists and their soaring voices did justice to a quieter movement. As the last ‘amen’ faded into silence, the prolonged applause showed how much the audience had appreciated this wonderful concert.
by Vivien Window
Carols by Candelight, Christmas 2008
Magic of Christmas past revisited Market Harborough Choral Society’s 40th Christmas Concert was performed before an audience of 200.
This choir of over 70 singers just love to sing and enjoy a challenge. They presented over 30 items, including some we could join in with. They sang serious Christmas songs, well-known carols and there was a spring of secular Christmas music and a few surprises too.
The concert began with a gentle carol, Once in Royal David’s City. Then modern 20th century composers were represented, proving that the art of carol writing is not dead. They included Rutter, Kendrick and Taverner, whose beautifully sung cathedral piece The Lamb was astonishing.
In the more serious first half musical director Anselm Kersten read accounts of the Christmas truce in the First World War. Later we all sang Adeste Fidelis, a carol in Latin just as the German soldiers had done.
After two lovely duets by Charlotta Hickie and Clare Wallington and Sarah Lupton and Pam Abbott and a solo by Lise Moore, we reached the interval *with the upbeat Torches and Handel’s Joy to the World.
After refreshments we joined in Good King Wenceslas, setting the scene for the lighter Christmas music of the second half. Pauline Rainey and Jane Callaghan both sang solos. Jane’s Joni Mitchell number River was not traditional but was extremely beautiful.
The Kings of the Orient featured the fine voices of John Morley, Trevor Hazlewood and Neil Ryrie. The choir’s rendition of Santa Claus is Coming to Town was a long, long way from the awful jingly song you constantly hear in shops! I particularly loved Rutter’s Candlelight Carol.
Another Christmas surprise was an amusing modern poem about life today, penned and read by Charlotta Hickie.
This concert took me back to my childhood when Christmas was magic and all Christmas songs seemed as beautiful as they were sung at this concert.
So, many thanks to the choral society, and Happy Christmas.