A Baroque Christmas Concert

Posted on Wednesday 23 January 2013

College Choral Society and Soloists give inspiring performance

Once again the Dame Kelly Holmes Sports Hall was converted into a magnificent venue for the end of term concert presented by the College’s Choral Society and soloists. The theme of this year’s event was “A Baroque Christmas” and the programme was both seasonal and inspiring. It was also extremely challenging – albeit a challenge that was splendidly met by all involved.

The first piece of the evening was J.S. Bach’s awe inspiring Cantata for Advent Wachet Auf!, a multi-movement work which opens with a complex contrapuntal chorus. It was a splendid vehicle for the 120 strong Choral Society to really show what they could do as their combined voices filled the large space, souring over the St Paul’s Sinfonia, and certainly proclaiming “Sleepers, Awake!”. Singing in the original German, the confidence and assurance of these fine young musicians was spellbinding not least in the solo movements which followed. Anita Lane and Jemma Mitchell (sopranos) joined forces with basses Jesse Bishop, George Bowen and George Priestly to give voice to the text in which the waiting for Jesus during Advent is represented by the waiting of a bride for her bridegroom. Whilst Anita and Jemma were both experienced soloists (who sang beautifully throughout) the three basses were all making impressive debut performances as solo singers, not that anyone would have guessed that this was a first appearance for any of them, such was their composure. The great cantata ended with a rousing chorale for full chorus.

The approach to Christmas was then picked up in the second work - Vivaldi’s vibrant and dramatic setting of the Magnificat text. This Latin text conveys the words of Mary as she is told by the angel of what is come. At times solemn and at times joyful, the chorus with a rich and colourful tone, projected the true sense of the music to all. They were also joined by more soloists from the department, namely Eleanor German, Beth Mabin, Martha Woodhams and Pippa Barlin (sopranos), Alexandra Baker and Jacquie Rowe (alto), Jago Thornton (tenor) and Aedan Day (Bass). The sense of style and musicianship displayed by these young singers could not help but impress everybody there.

The evening concluded, naturally enough, with the birth of Jesus as depicted in Buxtehude’s Ein Neugeborne Kinderlein. With a wonderful sense of spontaneity and with a smile on their faces, the Choral Society brought this uplifting evening of seasonal music to a triumphant end.

Speaking after the concert, Director of Music, Paul Bambrough said “I am absolutely thrilled with this evening. To sing such difficult music, in its original language on just nine hours of rehearsal is a magnificent achievement. Whilst many would say it couldn’t be done, here at Farnborough we’d rather say, “Let’s do it”! I am immensely proud of each and every musician who took part in this extraordinary concert.”
 

The College Choral Society

The College Choral Society

Jesse Bishop and Anita Lane

Jesse Bishop and Anita Lane

Paul Bambrough conducting the Choir and Orchestra

Paul Bambrough conducting the Choir and Orchestra

George Bowen and Jemma Mitchell

George Bowen and Jemma Mitchell

Paul Bambrough conducting

Paul Bambrough conducting