1 May 2016
Peter Devine, Senior Reporter
A PERFORMANCE by Prestbury Choral Society’s in front of a full house, was a resounding success according to an organiser. The event consisted of a twenty piece orchestra, organ and four soloists, under the expert musical direction of Simon Mercer, while the choir gave one of its best ever performances. Choir member, Cynthia Crewe, said: “Schubert’s Mass in A Flat was a big sing with plenty of drama, and Stanford’s Songs of the Fleet was something totally different – a bit like Gilbert and Sullivan in parts, and very moving in others. "Steven Wilkie’s rendition of the beautiful Bach Violin Concerto in A Minor was the icing on the cake." The next concert on June 4, will premiere a talented accompanist and assistant musical director, James Pelham. A Shropshire Lad is a setting of six sections from the epic poem by A. E. Housman, which Mr Pelham felt best expressed the emotion of the work. Mrs Crewe explains: "He was inspired by its innate musicality and by the wide variety of human experiences expressed in it. Those of a young man going to war, its effect on him and on those left at home. Although there is some darkness and uncertainty along the way, the composition ultimately ends on a note of hope. "By way of contrast, the choir will also sing an arrangement and medley of five well-known Negro spirituals by Jeremy Rawson, as well as dipping into the extraordinary, enchanting and sometimes outrageous world of opera, with a selection of pieces from the Great Opera Choruses: Borodin: Polovtsian Dances; Handel: Chorus of Enchanted Islanders; and Verdi: Triumphal Chorus from Aida. The concert starts at 7.30pm at St Bartholomew’s Church, Chancel Lane, Wilmslow, SK9 4AA. Tickets cost £10 (£9) and are available at the door or in advance via the website www.prestburychoral.org or telephone 01625 584337.
The society’s annual Singing Day is to be held on Saturday 13th February 2016 at Wilmslow United Reformed Church, Chapel Lane, Wilmslow, SK9 1PR. They will be exploring the choruses from Haydn’s great oratorio, The Creation, and may even dip into some of the arias. As always, an informal performance will bring the day to a fitting conclusion. The day will be led by an exciting and dynamic young conductor, James Hendry, who is currently studying at the Royal Northern College of Music as a Répétiteur in the vocal studies department on the Master’s Degree course. He is widely known for his work as a conductor and accompanist specializing in the vocal repertoire from choral music to operetta and Grand Opera. The society enjoyed a hugely successful start to the 2015-16 choral season with a splendid concert in November. Handel’s Dettingen Te Deum, a glorious celebratory piece with organ, trumpets and timpani accompaniment, combined with the vibrant muscular choruses and arias of Bach’s Magnificat, made for a great evening of poignancy, passion and drama. The popular Christmas concert comprised Charpentier’s Messe de Minuit, an adaptation of French dance-like carols to fit various parts of the Mass text, along with a selection of Christmas carols edited and arranged by Sir David Willcocks (1919-2015). Mince pies and mulled wine rounded off the evening nicely. The society supports East Cheshire Hospice at Christmas. For more information about James and the arrangements for the Singing Day, go to www.prestburychoral.org
In Cheshire Magazine
Published on December 26, 2015
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In the world of music, the word 'classic' is not thrown around lightly. It is only after having stood the test of time that pieces of music can claim this title. To the audience, classics are enthralling and exciting. They get stuck on ‘repeat’ in one’s head and call to be heard year after year. To a musician this is also true, but often is enhanced with a dash of terror. After all, precisely because classics are well known, they become even more difficult to perform well. It is therefore a considerable achievement that the Lancaster Singers’ recent concert brought moments of surprise within a familiar classic. In this anniversary year of Verdi's birth, I had already heard one convincing performance of his classic Requiem abroad. Yet in the hands of the massed choir ( Prestbury Choral Society, Lancaster Singers and Preston Cecilian Choral Society and Lancashire Sinfonietta), talented soloists and maestro Marco Fanti, I found myself hearing familiar phrases anew. It would be possible to speak of isolated accomplishments - the choir's excellent sound quality, the orchestra's nimble treatment of fast passages, the soloists' well-blended harmonies (barring a few errant bars). Yet in the end it was the overall affect that most impressed. The first introduction of the ‘dies irae’ was powerful and confident, with a tension and energy that made me burst into a wide smile. The ensemble also played with an impressive range of colors, and while still more could have been made of the mournful pp sections, the overall palette was very effective. Maestro Marco Fanti, with his contagious energy, was a confident and vibrant leader. There were, as in most concerts, a few moments that weren’t quite as seamless as intended, but the ensemble never left the audience nervous for long. While I appreciate demonstrations of musical skill, for me music is ultimately about emotional connection and the ability to escape, for a moment, into a new world. Though the musicians assembled in Bolton are not the most technically proficient to have ever performed Verdi’s Requiem, their musicianship and emotional investment was well evidenced and made for a thoroughly enjoyable revisiting of this classic.
Report by Lancaster Singers (Alison Hui), 23 November2013