The University Chorus and Orchestra came together on Saturday for a rousing, Italianate end to the autumn term, including Vivaldi’s evergreen Gloria, featuring soloists from the University Music Scholarship students, Cimarosa’s Magnificat, the overture to Verdi’s Nabucco and Respighi’s homage to Rossini, La boutique fantastque.
It struck us, in the afternoon rehearsal, that this was the first time since last December that the Chorus and Orchestra had come together to perform in the concert-hall – March sees them both in Canterbury Cathedral, and they each perform separately in the Summer Gala – so this was something of an anniversary performance!
The concert concludes
Next term we present music by Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Fauré in the annual Cathedral Concert on March 15th: see you there…
On Saturday, the University’s Chorus and Symphony Orchestra performed a concert of English and Russian music to a packed audience in Eliot College Hall.
Parry’s rousing ‘I was Glad’ kicked off the evening, followed, in contrast, by Lyadov’s evocative orchestral miniature ‘The Enchanted Lake’, complete with some wonderfully watery sounds from the harp and celeste (ably played by Emma Murton and our very own Dan Harding). Chorus and Orchestra were then joined by tenor soloist and BBC Singer, Robert Johnston, to perform Gerald Finzi’s ‘For St Cecilia’. The Chorus has worked unbelievably hard this term to learn this challenging work, and they certainly came good on the night – even receiving a subtle ‘thumbs-up’ sign from Rob after they had sung a particularly tricky passage perfectly!
The second half of the concert featured just the one work – Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’. This was a very ambitious choice for the Symphony Orchestra, with some extraordinarily virtuosic passages for all the different sections to capture the drama of each of the paintings and designs. Director of Music and conductor, Susan Wanless, was bowled over by the performance;
“It never ceases to amaze me how all our student performers come so good on the night. During rehearsals I sometimes think that I might have been just a bit to bold in the programming, but invariably everyone rises amazingly to the occasion. I don’t usually single-out individual players, but a special mention must go to saxophonist Hannah Williams, making her debut as an orchestral soloist, Euphonium player Jonathan Neagle, and especially Ben Lodge for his nerveless and faultless playing in all those scary trumpet solos!”
I’ve just discovered this photo from the Colyer-Fergusson Cathedral Concert last month, which has languished waiting to be posted. Taken from halfway up the raked choral seating behind the University Orchestra, it gives a sense of the mighty forces which assembled for the concert back in March.
Altogether now... in rehearsal
The day is especially long for all the performers involved, beginning at 9am when some of us begin to move the equipment from campus to the Cathedral; there then follows the rehearsal until 2.15pm, and then the concert in the evening.
A truly monumental occasion, and a terrific opportunity to perform in such an ancient venue.
(I should reassure readers that this was taken during a movement when there was no piano playing in the Stravinsky Firebird Suite. Honest…)