Review: Chamber and Cecilian Choir concert

Second-year Matt Bamford reviews last week’s choral concert during Summer Music Week.

The Church of St Paul’s Without was the setting for Music for a Summer’s Evening, where the University of Kent Chamber and Cecilian Choirs, conducted by Dan Harding and Emma Murton, joined forces to provide an evening of fantastic entertainment.

The Cecilian Choir
The Cecilian Choir

With proceeds in aid of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) Forces Help, the audience quickly filled the church and eagerly awaited A Ceremony of Carols composed by Benjamin Britten. Whilst the audience entered, they were treated to a selection of pieces by a string quartet consisting of pieces from Queen to Vivaldi.

A Ceremony of Carols begins with a solemn plainchant before going into ‘Wolcum Yole!’ where Emma Murton began to accompany the Cecilian Choir on the harp. The audience were then treated to a solo by Hannah Johns which was very well executed. Another solo from Aisha Bové followed and the balance between Aisha and the supporting choir was perfect. Ann-Kathrin Kirschbaum and Montana Slattery both excelled in solos in ‘In Freezing Winter Night.’

My highlight from the work, however, was ‘Deo Gracias’ which was sung with enthusiasm and fantastic diction. It was very easy to understand the words of the 15th Century Text ‘Adam Lay Ybounden’. Carina Evans then cleverly accompanied the Cecilian choir in two modern pieces which were a real contrast to Britten work.

Carina Evans
Carina Evans

After the interval, the University of Kent Chamber Choir took to the stage and opened the second half of the concert with Dawn by Eric Barnum. This is a personal favourite of mine and it really created a very peaceful atmosphere. Tanzen und Springen then gave a fantastic contrast as it is a jolly madrigal by Hans Leo Hassler.

The Chamber Choir
The Chamber Choir

Credit is due to Emma Murton, who after playing the harp and singing in the Chamber Choir then conducted the choir in a brilliant rendition of A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square. It was brilliant to see the audience enjoying Nice Work If You Can Get It by Gershwin, I don’t think that there was a single foot that wasn’t tapping in the whole church!

The choir then sang Forgotten Children’s Songs composed by Dan Harding, a very clever set of pieces that was very well sung by the choir. I couldn’t help but think of Schumann’s Kinderszenen whilst listening to these pieces.

We were treated to an encore of My Spirit Sang All Day which was a fitting end to a very professional and enjoyable concert. Thanks must go to members of SSAFA who kindly provided the musicians with refreshments after the concert.

Overall, a very enjoyable evening which was well received by the audience.

Matt Bamford

Photos: Matt Wilson

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