Reviews 2009/10 season
Last Night of the Proms
With the town positively awash with red and white English flags for the World Cup, its was a treat to go to the Choral Society’s Last Night of the Proms and see some blue as well!
The Methodist Church was decked with red, white and blue flags, bunting and balloons, and the audience waved Union Jacks as we enjoyed the best of Great Britain’s music. The only soloist was guest Patricia Douglas, a young soprano from Harborough just beginning her career.With that beautiful soaring voice she should go far. She was a joy.
Under MD Anselm Kersten, and accompanied by Alan Barraclough and David Hubery, the choir presented a diverse programme. I particularly loved the amusing compilation Name That Tune.
However, the highlight was the traditional ending, with the audience lustily joining in. Balloons tumbled on to us from above, flags waved, feet stamped. The audience were beaming.
"Massive work a big treat and fun to listen to"
Rossini: Petite Messe Solennelle Robert Smyth School, 20 March 2010
Rossini's operatic setting of the Mass is, despite its name, a massive piece of work, and it filled the programme at the Harborough Choral Society's concert last Saturday at the Robert Smyth School.
They welcomed back the excellent Leicester Symphony Orchestra and Alan Barraclough, playing the organ solo, and Anselm Kersten was their musical director energetically wielding the baton.
They also invited four professional opera singers to perform solos. The glorious voices of Janet Shell (mezzo soprano), Deborah Stoddart (soprano), Joseph Timmons (tenor) and John Lofthouse (baritone) were strong enough to be clearly heard above the orchestra yet blended into the choir's fantastic singing.
This evening was a treat. Rossini is best known for the William Tell overture (we can all hum that one) and this Mass was not thought to be “particularly petite, solemn or even liturgical” when written. Rossini said he wrote it as the last “sin of old age” and filled it full of “simple melodies and varied rhythms”.
A choir member told me “it was not easy, but great fun to sing”.
It was fun to listen to as well! I tapped my feet along to the music a few times (in a Mass). But I also found the beautiful singing really moving. Rossini is a composer I shall look for again.
"Concert Had Great Mix"
Carols by Candlelight, December 2009
As we trudged through the snow we knew it would be worth the effort. This annual concert is always a great mix of songs and carols, old and new, and we have the bonus of joining in the better-known ones under Anselm Kersten’s expert baton (he always informs us we have passed his audition and are now in the choir!)
This year the unaccompanied singing seemed particularly sweet, to music by composers such as Bach and Sibelius, Come Now with Awe, sung to Sibelius’ Finlandia was memorable.
Several soloists were featured – among them Tina Marshall, whose soaring soprano voice was followed by the mellow voice of Jane Callaghan singing the modern Two Thousand Miles with guitar backing. Two beautiful pieces, yet totally different.
The guest soloist was a flautist, 20-year-old music student Amy Thompson who has been supported in her career by many local people including MHCS. Her playing of Mouquet’s Pan et les Oiseaux from La Flute de Pan carried us to summer and meadows full of birdsong and drew prolonged applause.
Steve Pointer read the moving When the World was Dark, reminding us of the spirituality of Christmas, and the choir closed the concert with the jolly We Wish You A Merry Christmas.
Thank you so much, both choirs
Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana,, Saturday 21 November 2009
Market Harborough Choral Society with Lutterworth Choral Society
Robert Smyth School, Market Harborough
Put together two choral societies numbering about 100 singers, three professional soloists, two pianists and a complete percussion section, all under the direction of two musical directors, Anselm Kersten and Alan Barraclough, rehearse them long and hard – and you have a simply wonderful Carmina Burana.
In the first half, they paid homage to Handel with choruses from the Messiah and soloists Hilary Fisher and Helen Whittington sang an amusing duet and the melodious Barcarolle from Offenbach. Baritone Andrew Mayor was the strutting toreador from Carmen.
Carmina Burana begins with the well-known melodies that have been hijacked by television commercials. It moves into the beautiful singing of essentially 24 medieval poems.
These were found in manuscripts in a German monastery but are anything but religious – judging by the translations it’s perhaps just as well they were not sung in English!
The percussion section gave fantastic support and the soloists’ voices were amazing. I could scarcely believe the soprano could hit the top notes that she did.
I thought I knew this musical piece, but I had never actually heard it sung before and I fell totally in love with it!