Comments from the audience include: "I could have been in the Royal Albert Hall, I am in awe. I have heard many local choirs but this was just amazing"; "Wonderful singing, such quality" "McDowell was so complex, well done. The soloists were excellent as well, including the exhilarating playing by the pianist throughout the concert"; "The rapport between the conductor and the choir was lovely to see - we couldn't see his expression but we saw the choir's joyful response and it really added to our enjoyment"; "I don't think I've ever heard you all sound better than on Saturday - hang on to this guy!"; "The choir hit a high standard from the beginning, and never faltered. The energy and attack demonstrated were most impressive. Much of the credit for this must go to your conductor, who I think was inspirational".
Congleton Choral Society sparkled in their concert on Saturday, as their voices soared as if 'On Angels' Wings'.
Christopher Cromar is a phenomenally energetic musical director and this translated into the choir enthusiastically responding to his direction. Many of the audience reported that the choir had never sounded better. He never wastes a moment in rehearsal, so the music was well-rehearsed and sung with confidence, eyes upon the conductor. The results are clear.
Vaughan Williams' music is a glorious sing, which most audiences love and Saturday's was no exception. The choir's opening bars, forte harmony against Louis Hurst's rich creamy baritone, set the quality for the rest of the concert.
Cecilia McDowall's 'On Angel's Wing' is a modern composition and listeners do tend to either love or hate new music. One of our audience 'wasn't a fan' whereas the next person declared herself 'blown away', just to prove the point. It is a complex piece, full of tricky timings and dramatic changes in style. Louis Hurst (baritone) and Helen Massey (soprano) excelled in the solo sections. The percussionist, Oliver Patrick, added a vibrant and unexpected element.
Shearing's arrangements of Shakespeare's Sonnets are lively and varied, full of wit and contrast, which went down well with the audience in this, our English market town. Choirs enjoy them too! The sweetness and elegance of 'Who is Sylvia' provided a pleasing juxtaposition to 'Fie on Sinful Fantasy' and the men gave a stellar performance in 'It was a Lover and his Lass'.
The soloists then performed a selection of English songs by Finzi and Britten, both 20th century composers. If there was any criticism of the concert it was that the audience appreciated the voices but found these songs a bit 'samey'. They would have preferred more variety and interplay between the soloists. In fact they would have preferred more from the choir, which is compliment to take on board.
The final pieces, 'The Lord is My Shepherd' and 'Love Divine', were show stoppers and provided a joyous finale with the choir in full voice.
David Jones' dynamic and virtuoso piano accompaniment must not go unpraised as it was the anchor for all the music. He was a joy to work with and what talent!
Click here for additonal information about the composers and their music.
The society's Christmas concert, Carols for Choir and Audience, is in the Town hall on December 17th. Please see www.congletonchoralsociety.org.uk for more details.