Here you will find reviews and comments about the choir.
REVIEW OF CONCERT ON NOVEMBER 15th 2014
On Saturday, November 15, at Lancaster University, an impressive concert took place which appropriately reflected the current memorials for the First World War.
The event was also a first in that the Haffner Orchestra joined with the Lancaster Singers to mark this special yet sad time in history.
The combined concert included Brahms’ Song of Destiny, Nänie (Song of Lamentation), How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings (from the Requiem) and Haydn’s Mass in Time of War.
The musical interpretation, conducted with real expression and passion by Marco Fanti, immediately conveyed the calm but melancholic atmosphere of the Song of Lamentation.
Good balance between the voices and instrumentalists with woodwind and oboe in particular, created some highly emotive and dramatic moments.
In the other pieces by Brahms, again the choir and orchestra worked well together to set the mood of tragedy and loss in times of war.
Particularly poignant moments included the sombre entries of the timpani and striking sudden fortissimo entries in the trumpets in the Brahms Song of Destiny.
Occasionally, the tenors and basses needed to give a little more support to balance the upper voices and add to the dramatic effect.
In the second half, Justin Doyle conducted the joint enterprise in a superb performance of Haydn’s Mass in Times of War.
From the outset, this interpretation had pace, sheer musicality and clear direction, moving us through the changing atmosphere of the mass-parts with a religious dignity worthy of the sacred text.
The four vocal soloists: Laurie Ashworth, Sarah Jillian Cox, Christopher Steele and David Rees – Jones enhanced the performance further by their beautifully flowing, clear and expressive melodic lines adding the finishing touch to what was a truly masterly interpretation and rendition by Maestro Justin Doyle, the Haffner Orchestra and the Lancaster Singers.
By Angela Pendlebury, (Lancaster Guardian November 20th 2014)
Last Updated on Monday, 24 November 2014 12:30
SUMER IS ICUMEN IN – ASHTON MEMORIAL, LANCASTER – SUNDAY JUNE 15TH 2014
Summer Concert – Ashton Memorial Lancaster
‘Sumer is icumen in’
Sun 15th June 2014
This was a splendid evening’s entertainment. A choral programme of widely varying style was much appreciated by the audience. The Ashton Memorial is a wonderful setting with hugely reverberating acoustics, diminished for the better by the drapes now attached to the ceilings. The Singers and accompanist Ian Tate excelled themselves with Mavis Fletcher, as Choral Director leading in a confident and vibrant performance.
The opening number ‘Sumer is icumen in’ set the tone and the relatively unknown ‘Quid Petis O Fili’ by Richard Pygott was followed by three 16th century motets - Morley, Gibbons and Bennet. These were well executed and followed by the contrast of Byrd’s and then Mozart’s ‘Ave Verum Corpus’. Lotti’s ‘Crucifixus’ has held an especial place in the hearts of the Singers since they performed it in the beautiful Byzantine ‘Basilica of Saint Vitale’ in Ravenna whilst touring Italy in 2011. This evocative eight-part work was beautifully sung as, copying the Ravenna experience, the Singers encircled us, the audience, and filled the Memorial with what I perceived as a ‘waterfall’ of sound.
Accompanist Ian Tate demonstrated his considerable talents by playing two Romances composed by Clara Schumann. Ian’s performance complemented the choral programme admirably; these pieces were well chosen and beautifully executed.
Prior to the interval we were treated to four compositions of ‘Ave Maria’ all from 19th century composers, Clara Schumann, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Edvard Grieg and Sergei Rachmaninov.
The second half was a truly eclectic mix with the ever popular ‘Cantique de Jean Racine’ by Fauré and Cesar Frank’s ‘Panis Angelicus’ contrasting sharply with the a capella rendering of ‘O Nata Lux’ by the contemporary American composer Morten Lauridsen.
Two of Vaughan Williams’ ‘Five English Folk Songs’ led into an unusual madrigal by Robert Pearsall. Set for eight voices, the words of Lay a Garland are taken from an early 17th century play entitled The Maid’s Tragedy . Then on to the Edwardian era with Stanford’s ‘The Blue Bird’ and two delightful pieces by the popular contemporary composer Bob Chilcott: ‘The Lily and the Rose’ and ‘In a Golden World’. (The latter was composed by Chilcott for Mavis Fletcher and her husband Len for the occasion of their Golden Wedding Anniversary in 2013).
Sir Arthur Sullivan’s ‘The Long Day Closes’ brought the evening’s music to an end but refreshments provided further opportunities to chat and wallow in the memories of a very successful and enjoyable occasion. Well done Singers!
Last Updated on Monday, 23 June 2014 14:04
Verdi Requiem – Bolton Victoria Hall – November 23rd 2013
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), 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.
Last Updated on Monday, 02 December 2013 10:00