ARBROATH Choral Society presented their annual Spring Concert in St Andrew’s Church on Sunday before a capacity audience.
The choir, under the direction of Jane Miller, again treated the audience to an evening of wonderful music. Mrs Miller is to be congratulated, not only for her direction of choir and orchestra, led by Jane Illes-Brooksbank, but also for her choice of music. This was imaginative, entertaining and ambitious.
The concert opened with ‘The Pied Piper of Hamelin’ by Hubert Parry. This work, a little known setting of the well known story, while being light hearted and fun, is nonetheless extremely difficult for singers and orchestra. This was the most demanding item in the programme, with intricate entries, unexpected harmonies and constant changes of tempo and dynamics. All difficulties were handled with apparent ease, apart from one moment of hesitation which was quickly resolved.
The choir, with soloists Tyler Clarke, tenor (the Pied Piper) and Ross Mclnroy, bass (the Mayor) presented a wonderful performance of this engaging choral work. Mr Mclnroy gave an interpretative performance as the villain of the piece and Mr Tyler’s performance evoked the character of the willing helper who was betrayed by the Mayor and the Corporation. Choral passages of unaccompanied singing were particularly beautiful and words were clear although some word endings were not always together.
Next in the programme was ‘Agnus Dei’ arranged for choir from Elgar’s ‘Enigma Variations (Nimrod)’. After the demands of the Pied Piper this was an oasis of calm with some beautiful singing supported by an unobtrusive accompaniment on organ by Alison Hart. The ladies of the choir outnumber the gentlemen but for the most part the sections were well balanced, although at times the bass part could have been stronger.
The first part of the concert finished with Mr Clarke and Mr Mclnroy singing the well known, wonderful duet from ‘The Pearl Fishers’ by Bizet. The accompaniment by orchestra and Mrs Hart was perfectly balanced, as were the voices of the duettists.
In the second half of the programme the choir sang Puccini’s ‘Messa di Gloria’. In the Kyrie the alto section was particularly pleasing, as were the tenors. In the Gloria, there are technically difficult melody lines for soloists and choir and these were sung with apparent consummate ease by all. The soaring tenor melody of the Gratis agimus tibi sung by Mr Clarke was splendid, as was the Crucifixes bass solo by Mr Mclnroy.
Earlier in the work the sopranos were particularly impressive in the passage ‘Qui tollis pecata mundi’ where the writing was for sopranos alone. The Gloria was indeed glorious and the legato line in ‘Et in terra pax’ was sensitive and well balanced. Throughout all the sections of the mass dynamics were excellent with some thrilling crescendos and beautiful quiet passages.
This was a wonderful evening of music and we look forward to future concerts given by Arbroath Choral Society, and also hopefully, their guests Tyler Clarke and Ross Mclnroy.