Epsom Choral Society goes to Town on English music

Epsom Choral Society in Cadagon Hall

Epsom Choral Society joined the musical forces of The Barnes Choir, The English Sinfonietta and the Arcubus Ensemble on Saturday 13th July in The Cadagon Hall, London for a stirring celebration of English music, including William Walton’s stupendous Belshazzer’s Feast. Peter Lutton reviews the concert.

England in the 18th and 19th centuries is often said to have been a ‘land without music’; this concert
proved emphatically that from early in the 20th century every effort was being made to disprove that
notion. From Parry in 1902 to Walton in 1931 we heard music of great confidence, assuredness of
technique and not least, great beauty. The large forces needed were cleverly squeezed into the venue,
including the optional extra brass. Such a splendid all-English offering encourages those of us who feel
that much concert programming pays too little heed to the sheer quantity of excellent composition in
these isles over the last one hundred and twenty years.

Parry’s ‘I was Glad’ and ‘Blest Pair of Sirens’ are staples of the repertoire but were given more than the
usual respect; indeed, there was some very careful treatment of the various parts of the text. Even if the
brass opening in the former left little room for the choirs’ entry to crescendo, mostly the dynamics were
carefully observed, the Vivats were sensibly omitted (against current trends) and the contrasting middle
sections in both were sensitively presented. The tempo of ‘I was Glad’ could perhaps have been a notch
or two faster, given that this building has no noticeable reverberation period. In the louder parts, choral
forces this size were able to balance the sheer power that modern orchestral instruments can produce
and yet the climaxes were not overwhelming in a venue which might have been thought not quite large
enough for such massed forces.

The baritone soloist, Philip Tebb, was a very good communicator in both Vaughan Williams’ ‘Five
Mystical Songs’ and Walton’s ‘Belshazzar’s Feast’, only very occasionally losing out to the scale of the
orchestral sound behind him. A few hints of intonation fractionally under the note did not detract from
his impassioned performance. When the choir was assigned to very gentle but tutti accompaniment,
they were well balanced and the effect was surely exactly what the composer intended. Also particularly
effective was the orchestral wind playing in ‘The Call’. Finally, the tightness and drive of ‘Let all the
World’ with its excellent dynamic contrast ensured an inspiring finish to these heartfelt settings of
George Herbert’s powerful poetry.

The English Sinfonietta’s strings provided a very appropriate breather in Elgar’s ‘Serenade’, before
Parry’s ‘Blest Pair of Sirens’ rounded off the first half. This was precise, immaculate ensemble playing of
a very high order. The music was allowed to breathe and a great many nuances of rhythm and dynamic
were brought out in all three movements. Particularly notable was the restraint in the final part of the
second movement. The stylish yet slightly skittish playing evident in the third movement reflects Elgar’s
confident orchestration; string players eulogise Elgar’s writing for their instruments, saying that his
understanding of their needs is shown in the way the individual lines often lie under their fingers.

The climax of the evening was of course Walton’s ground-breaking cantata, ‘Belshazzar’s Feast’. This
must have been a revelation to all its hearers back in 1931 – it has this power now, as we heard clearly in this performance. The orchestra made the most of the dramatic brass and varied percussion writing,
carefully designed so as not to drown out the choral writing, itself written deliberately in homophonic
style so that the text would be clear to the listener. The rhythmic demands in this music are considerable, yet this performance came across as confident and accurate, even if some furious counting must have been going on amongst the differing voice parts.

The emotional outpouring in the first few pages reached a peak of luminosity in the repeated setting
of the words ‘How shall I sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?’ Walton’s bold choral writing broke new
ground and the choirs did it full justice. The long and demanding unaccompanied baritone solo was
delivered with both accuracy and passion before we launched into the vivid description of the
feast and its musical elements.

Walton’s music strikes a balance between modernity and tonal tradition which makes him more approachable than many other composers; this performance was admirable for its clarity and direction. The sinister percussion introduction to the writing on the wall and the choral shout of ’Slain!’ were as effective as any visual image, showing the power of modern oratorio when brilliantly crafted and expertly handled.

The final romp of celebration was given due impetus and we were left breathless at the end by the grandeur of the conception and the quality of the performance.

Congratulations are due once more to Epsom Choral Society, The Barnes Choir, the Arcubus Ensemble
and the English Sinfonietta, all under Julian Collings, for their stirring performance of a great classic.

Peter Lutton

Formerly Assistant Director of Music, St John’s School, Leatherhead and Organist Emeritus, St Nicolas, Great Bookham.

Feast your eyes and ears on this

Belshazzers Feast

Epsom Choral Society and The Barnes Choir, two amateur choral groups renowned for their passion and dedication to musical excellence, are set to entertain audiences with a grand performance of Sir William Walton’s epic masterpiece, Belshazzar’s Feast, on Saturday 13th July 2024, at Cadogan Hall in London. Under the baton of their Musical Director, Julian Collings, and featuring acclaimed baritone soloist, Philip Tebb, this event promises to be an unforgettable evening.

The work will be performed by an 80-piece professional orchestra, including two additional brass bands as called for in Walton’s score, complemented by a combined choir of over 160 singers. Such a collaborative effort shows the commitment of both choirs to showcasing the exceptional standard of amateur choral singing prevalent in this country.

The programme will also feature a selection of other notable works, including Vaughan Williams’ evocative Five Mystical Songs, Parry’s majestic I Was Glad and stirring Blest Pair of Sirens, as well as Elgar’s enchanting Serenade for Strings.

“We are thrilled to bring together the talents of Epsom Choral Society and Barnes Choir for this ambitious performance,” said Julian Collings, Musical Director of both choirs. “Through our dedication and passion for choral music, we aim to inspire and uplift audiences, showcasing the extraordinary level of artistry that exists within the realm of amateur choral singing.”

Tickets for this event are now available from Cadogan Hall box office, offering audiences the opportunity to experience the power and beauty of choral music at its finest. Don’t miss this exciting collaboration.

Event Details:

• Date: 13th July 2024
• Time: 7:30 PM
• Venue: Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, London SW1X 9DQ

For ticketing information and enquiries:

Please visit www.cadoganhall.com or contact the box office on 020 7730 4500 or
online https://cadoganhall.com/whats-on/belshazzars-feast/book/912634/

Northern Lights up Epsom

Epsom Chamber Choir in St Martins

At their “Mass in Blue” concert Saturday 29th June, St Martins Church, Epsom, the Epsom Chamber Choir succeeded once again in enhancing their reputation for exciting performances of adventurous programmes.

The evening kicked off with “Northern Lights” by the contemporary Latvian composer, Ēriks Ešenvalds, and saw the choir placed unusually in the chancel, rather than in their customary position nearer the audience in the transept. This meant that their entrance was not greeted by the usual applause, as the audience hadn’t realised that they had arrived! After a vigorous opening, the reason for this placing became apparent as the piece employs tuned wine glasses and chimes which need to be supported – the choir stalls being ideal. 

Ešenvalds uses this unusual instrumentation to produce a sustained shimmering sound which underscores the choir particularly effectively in the quieter passages. A timely work for us in the UK, having recently been treated to magical displays of the Northern Lights! 

The choir returned to their normal positions for “Stargazer” by the contemporary British composer, Alec Roth. His style recalls Holst’s and Britten’s – especially the Flower Songs – and the choir showed some wonderful legato singing in the shifting harmonic colours. 

Vocalist Maddie Martin and the LJ Jazz Trio then provided us with a jazzy interlude, and the first half of the concert concluded with another contemporary British composer, Jonathan Dove and his “The Passing of the Year”. These seven, contrasting part-songs – stunningly accompanied by choir member, virtuoso pianist Stephen Ridge – gave the choir the chance to display their convincing mastery of complex and quirky rhythms, and cool and hot tone clusters.  

The second half of the concert was given over to “Mass in Blue” by a third contemporary British composer, Will Todd. While not a personal favourite, this exciting setting of the mass has gained huge popularity across the choral world. The blues scale permeates the whole work but the choir immediately seemed fully “in the groove”, secure and quite at ease with the challenging blues harmonies and rhythms.

At times, some were unable to resist the urge for spontaneous swaying! Singing almost as a complex backing group to the jazz trio and vocalist, the choir was able to show off its skill with sensitive phrasing and highly effective dynamic contrasts. A convincing performance of a welcome addition to the repertoire.

Nick Landauer

Photo: ©Edward Webb

Epsom author thinks the unthinkable

Author on Epsom Downs

Published on 28th May 2024, The Unthinkable Truth by Epsom based author Yona Bouskila is a gripping thriller that delves into the depths of the human mind and explores how real and seemingly innocent scientific discoveries can spiral into global dystopia.

With the authorities set to rob people of their freedom of choice, in order to create a perfectly obedient and mindless society, The Unthinkable Truth questions whether free will is simply an illusion, and whether our own human nature could be the catalyst to our downfall.

Making use of his extensive background in neuroscience, the author expertly transports us into a world where a team of scientists, other experts and a characterful AI are tasked with solving the most baffling question about the human mind, creating a gripping narrative that will appeal to all.

Yona Bouskila ticks all the boxes for fans of both thrillers and intellectually stimulating reads, but most importantly, readers aren’t required to know the first thing about science to enjoy his compelling and thought-provoking novel.

In the hope of distracting himself from his heartache, George Bennet, a mild-mannered professor of theoretical physics, accepts an invitation by UNESCO to join an eclectic multidisciplinary team of experts, tasked with unravelling the enigma of the human mind.

As this seemingly innocent academic investigation twists and turns, George suspects that they are being duped into aiding a sinister plan, which threatens to shatter the very foundations of society. When the unthinkable truth emerges as their final conclusion, and the plan is exposed, George and the team must be silenced. No matter the cost.

What is the unthinkable truth? Will George survive to reveal it? Only one thing is certain: humanity will never be the same.

Drawing on solid scientific research, The Unthinkable Truth is a compelling and intricate thriller that will make readers question their own human nature.

A scientist by training, a thinker by nature, and an author by passion, Yona Bouskila has a particular fascination with the human mind in all its aspects. This enduring passion, together with his penchant for thrillers, served as the driving force behind his novel, The Unthinkable Truth, which he describes as a thought-provoking thriller that culminates in an eye-opening revelation on the mind and humanity. He studied biology (with philosophy) and received a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA.

He is involved in medical research and development. Before that, he conducted brain research at several institutions in the US and Europe. He writes short stories, often with a humorous slant, and his debut novel will be published in May 2024. He lives in Epsom with his wife and pets, where he enjoys the Surrey countryside and contemplating life.

A book promotion will end on 10th June (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Unthinkable-Truth-Yona-Bouskila-ebook/dp/B0CW1N2JTJ)

Picture this house in the centre of Epsom!

After much anticipation, Epsom Picturehouse — a six-screen cinema, café, and bar at the heart of Epsom Square — will be opening its doors on Saturday 01 June.

The latest addition to the Picturehouse Cinemas family, Epsom Picturehouse is set to encompass all the best that the world of film has to offer. Tickets are on sale now for Furiosa, George Miller’s epic Mad Max prequel starring Chris Hemsworth and Anya Taylor-Joy, and film lovers will be able to book soon for new releases including the horror thriller A Quiet Place: Day One and Marvel Studios’ Deadpool & Wolverine.

There’ll also be chances to catch this year’s wonderful family titles, Inside Out 2 and Despicable Me 4 – and don’t forget to ask for the discounted Family Ticket! Film fans can also catch up with a wide range of classic movies from directors such as the Coen Brothers and Stanley Kubrick – perfect to revisit on the big screen.

The fun doesn’t stop there: we’re pleased to announce our Summer Outdoor Cinema season. Enjoy alfresco cinema under the stars as our pop-up screen comes to Bourne Hall in Ewell from Friday 05 July. Bring a blanket for the perfect way to spend a summer evening, with crowd-pleasers like Mamma Mia, Twilight, and Back to the Future!

Find out more at: picturehouses.com/epsom

Clare Binns, Managing Director of Picturehouse Cinemas, says: “We’re thrilled to be opening the doors and welcoming the people of Epsom into Picturehouse’s 28th cinema – at long last! Our cinemas are shaped by their communities, and with six screens, a bar and a restaurant, this beautiful new venue will be a perfect space for bringing people together to relax, enjoy delicious food and drink, and soak up all the magic of the big screen.”

Book a private screening to give your clients, colleagues, or employees a big-screen experience that blows them away, or enjoy a night of gaming in our specially-created event screen.

As part of our nod to local history, we’ve even dedicated one of our screens to Epsom’s first-ever cinema, The Electric Theatre, which opened its doors to the neighbourhood’s cinema lovers in 1910. We’re proud to continue its legacy by honouring this jewel in the community, where people queued up for hours for silent films, newsreels, and live piano accompaniment.

Epsom Picturehouse Founder Membership is on sale now. The first 1000 customers who purchase an annual Membership for the new cinema will get their names installed in the building, on a specially commissioned Founder Members’ Wall. The Memberships will also include an additional 2 free tickets to use when the cinema opens its doors. Learn more and sign up at picturehouses.com/epsom-membership.

About Picturehouse Cinemas:

Picturehouse is an award-winning UK film company incorporating cinema, distribution and home entertainment, formed in 1989 to challenge the multiplex model. Its flagship cinema Picturehouse Central is situated in the heart of London’s West End, with the rest of its 28 venues located across England and Scotland.

Picturehouse’s architecturally unique cinemas sit in the heart of local neighbourhoods and cater to a diverse and wide-ranging audience. They provide bespoke food and drink offerings across their cafés, bars, restaurants and members’ bars. The programme is curated to champion films made for all ages and backgrounds, from quality mainstream film through to foreign-language and documentary features, as well as live event cinema and in-person events and Q&As when available.

Follow the latest news on Ealing Picturehouse on social media:
Twitter: @Epsom_PH
Instagram: @EpsomPicturehouse
Facebook: @EpsomPicturehouse

Picture House press release.

How amiable are thy tabernacles ?

Brahms requiem books

Jane Pickles reviews Saturday May 18th’s Ashtead Choral Society concert at St Martin’s Epsom.

If you live in north Surrey, you are lucky to have such a busy and vibrant music scene with so many concerts given by so many different groups at so many different venues.

Quantity is one thing but Ashtead Choral Society’s Brahms concert on 18 May in Epsom highlighted the sheer quality and professionalism we also have available locally. Kent Sinfonia set the tone for an emotional evening with Brahms Tragic Overture. From Dr Andrew Storey’s first down beat we knew that the orchestra was as one in committing to Brahm’s journey of light and dark. Being a church St Martin’s does not have great sight lines for all seats, but the monitors allow the audience to observe up close what is going on, and it felt like Storey was able to give Kent Sinfonia space to play stepping in to only to encourage and finesse at key moments.

That brought us to Brahm’s German Requiem. We knew Kent Sinfonia were up for a night of high emotion, and the choir were not to be outdone with their first haunting ‘Selig sind’ (blessed are they) which developed into two wonderfully evocative movements delivered by choir and orchestra. The well-known second movement – ‘Denn alles Fleisch ist wie Gras’ (All flesh is a grass) – was delivered with purpose building to promised ‘joy and gladness’. Talking of quality, it was good to see the baritone, Daniel Tate, and soprano, Eleanor Pennell-Briggs back in Epsom for this event. Tate’s appearance saw him work his intonement, ‘Lord, make me to know mine end’, building with the orchestra and choir to a long, glorious final fugue from Storey into which players and singers flung themselves.

After a welcome glass of wine, the choir eased us back into Brahms’ journey with the motet-like ‘How amiable are thy tabernacles’ before Pennell-Briggs gave us the comfort promised by the fifth movement with mesmerizing tenderness and simplicity. Tate’s return portended more drama, and the choir did not disappoint with cries of ‘death where is thy sting?’ from which Storey set up a triumphant ‘Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power.’ This might have been a fine hopeful and triumphant end to the work, but Brahms gives us a final seventh movement ending as he starts with a reprise of the tender ‘selig sind’ motif from which Storey eased us to final ‘rest from our labours’ as Brahms’ epic melted into peace.

ACS is commemorating Remembrance Day in Epsom on 9 November and I have no doubt their assembled forces will provide another great evening of quality music with their programme of Hadyn’s Nelson Mass and Faure’s Requiem.

Jane Pickles

Related reports:

Ashtead Choral Society give a lesson in three Rs

Ashtead Choral Society celebrated Surrey’s Vaughan Williams.

Image: Flickr. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 DEED

Spanish fiesta came to Epsom

Epsom Symphony Orchestra May 4th concert

Epsom Symphony Orchestra – Epsom Playhouse – 4th May – Review by Sarah Haines.

What an uplifting and colourful music evening put on by Epsom Symphony Orchestra. Their May concert at Epsom Playhouse was a rich and colourful Spanish Fiesta overseen by Musical Director and Conductor Darrell Davison.

A wonderful start to summer with its promise of outdoor living. Our party had pre performance tapas and spirits which nicely set the stage for what was to come. Chabrier’s Espana captured the Spanish way of life in music. Full of character, and contrasting themes including parts that were really powerful and tempestuous. Elsewhere light and springy with happy harp playing. Ending in fantastic fanfare.

Turina’s Procession of the Lady of the Dew was a charming little piece: a fantastic soundtrack to a fiesta in Seville. We listened to music from a procession – sedate and respectful; building to a joyful and jubilant end: trumpets playing the Spanish national anthem – this one really was like a film score overture.

Richard Scholfield then treated us to two wonderful pieces playing the solo saxophone (supported by the Orchestra). The first was Ravel’s Pavane (arranged by Darrell Davison) – a slow Spanish dance. This was superb playing – soulful and light, a silken sound, romantic, demonstrating the repertoire of the saxophone.

The second was Borne’s marvellous Fantaisie Brillante on Themes from Bizet’s Carmen – a demanding soloist piece played beautifully and with flair – it was phenomenal, at times racy, playful, a powerful Tango, rapid scales with wonderful percussion joining at the end. At points it was like listening to a horse race.

The second half began with de Falla’s Three Cornered Hat Suite 2. This piece depicted melodies from cafes, bars and street musicians. A throbbing intensity from the cellos and double basses interspersed with movements of lightness from the violins and violas and augmented by colourful music from the brass and woodwind. This really caught the essence of Spanish life.

Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espangnole was joyful piece: containing two morning songs, a gypsy song and a Fandango (animated Spanish dance). So many wonderful solo parts throughout the orchestra as they played this colourful piece.

The concert ended with the unforgettable Ravel’s Bolero – an extremely popular piece. The familiar tune gradually built and built as more members of the orchestra came in. Two snare drummers stood like sentinels either side of the stage, reminiscent of Torvill & Dean’s legendary gold winning ice-skating performance at the Sarajevo 1984 winter Olympics.

Sarah Haines

Walking with dinosaurs … not quite

Zehar Hicks and her sausage dog onEpsom Common

Epsom-based Zehra Hicks is an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator whose books have been translated in over 20 languages. Through her work, she shows the magic of storytelling to children through her comical illustrations, which has led to an already impressive list of accolades, including being highly commended for the Macmillan Prize for Illustration and winner of the Heart of Hawick Award, to name a few.

When Dinosaurs Walked The Earth, authored by Sean Taylor and illustrated by Zehra, is one of five shortlisted books for this year’s £10,000 Oscar’s Book Prize. Founded in honour of book-loving Oscar Ashton who passed away aged three and a half from an undetected heart condition, the prize seeks to find the best children’s picturebook, and is supported by Amazon and the Evening Standard with Princess Beatrice as a patron. The winner will be announced at a ceremony in central London on the 7th May.

Zehra is a tutor at Chelsea College of Arts, where she completed a short course in Book Illustration in 2009.

Since then, she has been highly commended for the Macmillan Prize for Illustration, winner of the Heart of Hawick Award, named Lovereading4Kids Debut of the Year in 2011and shortlisted for the Read It Again! Cambridgeshire Children’s Picture Book Award.

About Epsom Zehra told the Epsom and Ewell Times: “I moved to Epsom from London 14 years ago when I was pregnant with our second child. For quite a while I missed living London, but now I definitely have the best of both worlds. I feel incredibly lucky to be living in a town with so many open green spaces like Epsom Common and Epsom Downs, yet only being a 35 mins train ride away from the capital.

“I love going for daily walks with my sausage dog, Vincent. Sometimes I even run with him. I’m much more likely to come up with book ideas on a walk or run than stuck behind my desk! And I love bumping into people for little chats. Being an author and an illustrator can be quite lonely, and I find Epsom residents and dog walkers so friendly.

“I work in cafes too, so although some people may think there are too many cafes in Epsom, I happily make use of them ALL! You may often see me in Gail’s or D’s Coffee House with a sketch book working on new ideas. I love the buzz in cafes – it helps my creativity, and I love that there seems to be more and more residents working in cafes, creating a lively working community.”

“Having an art shop and bookshop is a huge benefit to me too, as is the market. It would be lovely to have some more independents though. A few are cropping up, but very, very slowly!”

Image: Zehra Hicks and her sausage dog on Epsom Common

Music for our times

Jack Apperley and Epsom Chamber Choir

Shelagh Godwin reviews last Saturday’s Epsom Chamber Choir concert at St Martin’s Church.

Imagine writing a piece that means a lot to you and then never hearing it performed. This was the fate of Maximilian Steinberg’s Passion Week. Composed in the 1920s just as the Soviet regime was banning any religious music, the piece was published in Paris at the behest of the composer in 1927, and scores eventually made it to the United States, but it was not until 2014 that a complete performance and an award-winning recording took place. It has had its enthusiasts since, one of whom, Epsom Chamber Choir’s conductor Jack Apperley, presented a performance on Saturday 23rd March in St Martin’s Parish Church in Epsom.

Based largely on Russian Orthodox chants, Passion Week could not be more different from the sacred music composed by Steinberg’s contemporary and fellow-student Igor Stravinsky. Indeed, it draws more from the influence of his father-in-law Rimsky-Korsakov. It is more reflective in mood than Rachmaninov’s more celebrated Vespers, and the stepwise movement of Orthodox chant pervades the work and the general mood. The texts are Church Slavonic hymns for Holy Week, and are reflective tableaux rather than narrative. The eleven sections tend to sound somewhat the same, but there are great moments, enhanced on Saturday by the Epsom Chamber Choir’s well-co-ordinated ensemble and effective use of excellent soloists from within the choir. Like much Russian choral music of the time, it abounds in low notes for the basses, who dealt with that challenge magnificently.

Interspersed with the hymns of Passion Week were the five deeply moving spirituals from Tippett’s A Child of our Time, which received superb and moving performances from the choir.

A more unfamiliar interjection was Owain Park’s Phos hilaron (Hail gladdening Light), a complex setting of psalms and Greek liturgy. I say complex because it was very difficult to follow the words! It did achieve the desired effect, as did the extremely evocative encore, John Rutter’s heart-rending Prayer for Ukraine, sung in Ukrainian. Entirely appropriate in view of the tragedies of the previous few days.

Shelagh Godwin

Ashtead Choral Society give a lesson in three Rs

Ashtead Choral Society outside St Martins Church in Epsom

Jane Pickles reviews a concert given by the Ashtead Choral Society in Epsom’s St Martin’s Church on Saturday 16th March that included works from Rameau, Rossini and Rutter.

I don’t know about you, but when I open my Spotify application to listen to music I am immediately drawn to the familiar where one finds comfort and pleasure. The glory of this programme was to take the audience on a spiritual journey from the less familiar Catholic Baroque to the well-known glory of the modern English church tradition.

You will find it difficult to find a recording of Rameau’s Blow the Trumpet. One wonders why as this joyful opening set the scene invigoratingly for the evening, bringing together the full forces of choir, organ and soprano, Helen Pritchard. If you were at the last ACS concert, you will have enjoyed the rich, operatic dramaticism of Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle. This time we were treated to three of his glorious motets in the same vein, with Musical Director Dr Andrew Storey making the most of the sacred setting and acoustic of St Martin of Tours and the powerful shifts in expression offered by Rossini.

Helen Pritchard’s solo performance moved us firmly into the early 20 th century with a rare opportunity to experience Vierne’s Les Angelus song cycle in which John Carnelley’s shimmering organ playing underpinned Pritchard’s effortlessly lyrical appeals to the Virgin Mary. This set the scene for another rarely heard classic: the intense homophonic simplicity of Gorecki’s incantation Totus Tuus. Storey created and sustained a mesmerising soundscape, still yet kinetic, and crowned with a resounding silence at the end of this evocative chant to the Virgin Mary.

Faure’s Pavane and Cantique de Jean Racine brought us back to the familiar and foreshadowed the last stage in the evening’s journey, Rutter’s well-known Requiem. Rutter went to France to view the original manuscript of Faure’s Requiem before he wrote his own, and Storey illustrated exactly why Rutter’s offering is a modern classic.

The choir dealt purposefully with the anguished chromatic calls for eternal rest that open the work, before resolving into the simple, lyrical beauty of Rutter’s requiem theme. In the psalm setting movements – Out of the Deep and The Lord is My Shepherd – the choir shifted seamlessly from simple lines shared between the parts, to glorious harmonies and well-delivered choral recitatives. Pritchard gave us grace and purity in Rutter’s Pie Jesu, soaring to heaven and back again from the pulpit.

Storey gave a blazing Sanctus, an Angus Dei which tore at the heartstrings as he drove a crescendo of pleas to the Lamb of God from choir, and, finally, resolution and rest through the spare lines of the Lux Aeterna.

All in all, tour of Europe, a tour of musical epochs, and a tour for the soul. Storey must have tours on his mind as he mentioned that ACS will be taking much of this repertoire on tour to Italy later this year. Bravo!

Jane Pickles

Photo Credit: Sue Weeks.