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!