Congleton Choral Society delighted the Town Hall audience with its latest concert on October 16th, which featured composers Vaughan Williams, Karl Jenkins and C Hubert Parry.
The concert opened with Walt Whitman’s tone poem “Towards the Unknown Region”, set to haunting and dramatic music by Vaughan Williams in 1906. This was a first for CCS, who progressed from being uncertain (to say the least) of their ability to master it and the audience’s ability to listen to it, to being thrilled at the performance and the reception the piece received. It has difficult harmonies and tricky entries by the four parts, which were a little insubstantial in some places but overall were successful in creating the mood the poem demands.
Parry’s gentle and melodic “Peace” with its triumphant final phase, is a deservedly well-loved choral piece which the Choir sang with the contrasts in volume and style which are needed to lift it above possible mediocrity, accompanied wonderfully on the piano by Tim Abel.
And then, after the interval, came “The Armed Man”, one of the most requested pieces of choral works in the last few years. CCS brought it to Congleton in 2005, with MD David Johnson and the Cantilena Orchestra, to an appreciative audience. New MD Nick Concannon Hodges brought a different performance, due in some measure to the smaller CCS Ensemble, which played exquisitely, it was remarked, for all three pieces in the concert. Percussion, trumpets, organ, cello, flute and grand piano produced a volume of sound which allowed the choir to respond sensitively to Nick’s conducting. The beautiful cello solo and “The Last Post” brought the audience close to tears; the high notes were in perfect pitch on the piccolo; the percussion packed a huge punch and put the audience on the edge of its seat while the organ and piano provided the melodic framework. Solos were sung by choir members, who grew in confidence during the performance.
The concert ended with huge applause and many compliments from the audience on the choir’s continuing high standards of repertoire and performance.