Here you will find reviews and comments about the choir.
Lancaster Singers – concert in Lancaster Priory, 23rd March 2013
Conductor : Mavis Fletcher
Organ : Christopher Brayne
Soloists : Elizabeth Humphries; Lucilla Graham; Tom Morss; Stefan Berkieta
The first half of this concert alternated pieces for organ solo with a capella motets by Bruckner. The organ pieces – Three Pieces for Organ by Walton and Sonata No 4 by Mendelssohn – made for sensible programming, though they did little to excite this reviewer. In saying that, however, I must admit to being generally unenthusiastic about much of the organ solo repertoire. The Bruckner Motets – Ave Maria, Christus factus est, Os justi and Locus iste - were well sung, as was to be expected from this experienced choir. I did feel, though, that the choice of speeds made them sound hurried – I would have liked slightly broader tempi giving more space to convey the spirit of these essentially contemplative settings by a deeply religious composer. The parts were well-balanced and even though the bass section sounded a bit under-powered their line was always clearly audible whenever needed.
After the interval the choir was joined by a quartet of young soloists from RNCM to sing Beethoven’s C major setting of the Mass. This was a performance which served well the composer’s distinctive new approach to the words of the Mass though it was less successful in some of the more demanding fast passages, especially those with high tessitura for the sopranos. I particularly enjoyed the Kyrie section, there were some excellent unison passages and several occasions when the dramatic character of Beethoven’s setting came through well. The best passages showed a good forward sense of phrasing (which had been rather less apparent in the Bruckner motets) which gave extra vitality to the music. The organ accompaniment also contributed much to the performance by the use of a great variety of interesting and appropriate registrations. The four soloists were well balanced with each other and with the choir and all acquitted themselves well. I particularly enjoyed the well-rounded tone and legato phrasing from mezzo-soprano Lucilla Graham.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 14:50
Lancaster Singers’ ‘Come and Sing Day’
Saturday 13th October 2012 with Marco Fanti
In preparation for their next concert on 17th November 2012 (Duruflé’ Requiem at Lancaster Priory) Lancaster Singers held a ‘Come and Sing Day’ at the Chaplaincy Centre, Lancaster University.
They were joined by friends from the Preston Cecilian Choral Society, which is also directed by Marco Fanti, and other guests, totalling around 80 singers. The day was spilt into three sessions from 11am to 4pm. with breaks between.
Director Marco Fanti led in his customary charismatic style with exercises to improve range, intonation, expression and diction and then pressed the assembled singers through a detailed work-out of the choral passages in this music. This was demanding work, but very rewarding as singers gained confidence and reached new heights of performance – and, as always under Marco’s leadership, it was fun.
Ian Pattinson, who will be organist at the concert in November, accompanied on the piano.
This was a very worthwhile and thoroughly enjoyable event. The next ‘Come and Sing Day’ will be held on Saturday 16th February 2013 – details on this website.
Last Updated on Monday, 15 October 2012 10:16
Summer Concert - A Feast of Song – St Paul’s Church Brookhouse
Sunday 17th June
Elgar – The Black Knight
Faure – Pavanne & Madrigal
Smetana – Ceska Pisen
& Solo performances of songs by Faure & Kalman
This summer concert was truly a ‘Feast of Song’ in which this excellent choir presented a varied programme of unfamiliar works. Throughout this season, the introduction of compositions, new, to a large number of the audience, has been most welcome and one is aware of and grateful for, the extra work this entails. Marco Fanti and Mavis Fletcher as conductors, have done an ambitious and splendid job.
The opening work was a strange and seldom performed early composition by Elgar. There is nothing ‘sunny or summery’ about ‘The Black Knight’!
In this setting of a German poem, the text of which makes a Shakespearian tragedy look optimistic, the choir conveyed the dark drama with all its variety of mood wonderfully well, especially in the last movement, of what Elgar intended to be, a Choral Symphony.
With keyboard accompaniment, there was no orchestra, thereby thwarting his intentions. This may stimulate the listener to look further for the ‘genuine article’ but without orchestra it certainly offers a paler version of Elgar’s ambitious and rather inexplicable undertaking.
Great credit goes to Helena Morwood whose accompaniment was marvellous in mastering a complex and dramatic score.
The second item of the two works of Faure, again gave us an unfamiliar version of a well known work. ‘Pavanne’, not as generally heard, but with chorus added by Faure. The flowing rhythmic patterns and subtleties of tone were excellent as was also the case in the Madrigal, which followed.
Soprano Bibi Heal, accompanied sensitively by Andy Plowman was a joy to hear in songs by Faure and Kalman; amusing, touching and immensely powerful, her engagement with the audience was perfect. This was the thrill of opera at close quarters!
The evening ended with some delightful settings of Bohemian songs by Smetana in which separate sections of the choir provided an exhibition of skill, with one setting for female and one for male voices, sandwiched between two settings in full chorus. The first and third were particularly impressive. Audience and choir clearly shared in the joy that his compatriot Dvorak found in his native style.
This has been a fascinating season. Many thanks to everyone involved.
Elizabeth Cole, Lancaster
Last Updated on Monday, 02 July 2012 14:06