Even those of dyed-in-the-wool republican tendencies seemed to be swayed by the exuberance of Congleton Choral Society’s Diamond Jubilee concert on Saturday evening at St Mary’s Church, Astbury. The weather was kind and the sun lit up the stained glass windows of this jewel of a church.
Handel’s Zadok the Priest and Parry’s Blest Pair of Sirens never fail to move an audience and were sung with power and force. In contrast, the unaccompanied madrigals Sing We and Chant It and The Silver Swan were poignant and ethereal. Edward Bairstow’s haunting anthem I Sat Down Under His Shadow was sung with loving control and precision. John Rutter’s This is The Day, written for the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, was a great joy both to sing and to hear, with the men excelling themselves as their voices sometimes soared above the other parts.
The organ at Astbury was put through its paces by Elin Rees, who brought out all its tonal colours. Her solo Crown Imperial was a commanding performance, and people were surprised by her youthful appearance when she came forward to great applause. Musical director Christopher Cromar displayed great energy and skill in getting the best from the choir yet again; it is no mean feat to fill Astbury church with sound.
Finally it was time for the audience to join in and really raise the roof, which they duly did in Land of Hope and Glory and Jerusalem. Coming out of the great building, the sky was still bright, mirroring the happiness of the crowd on a lovely summer’s evening.
The next opportunity to hear the choir will be their performance of Handel’s much loved Messiah
in Congleton Town Hall on Saturday 10th November.