November 2011: Gloria!

Exeter Cathedral, Saturday 19 November 2011, 7.30pm

Source: Simon Foxall (from a review published in the Express and Echo)

The concert in the Cathedral on Saturday 19th November brought together four different ensembles from different regions of the South West and from across the age range. Exeter’s own Festival Chorus was joined for this magnificent occasion by an elite chamber choir – the Bath Camerata, as well as by Wells Cathedral School Brass and Percussion Ensemble and the Devon County Junior Choir.

The concert opened with Arvo Pärt’s Beatitudes. Pitch tended to sag at times, but diction was clear and the tenors were notable for their sweet-toned singing, even in higher pitch ranges. It was interesting to experience a live performance of a piece we might not hear too often.

In John Rutter’s Gloria, the young performers from the specialist music school at Wells had some tricky moments, though the brass sound in the slow movement was much more effective. They really came into their own later in the concert, and the percussionists (timpani, xylophone, cymbals and bass drum) always gave an incisive edge to the music.

In the second half of the concert we were treated to an exciting performance of a recent work by Bob Chilcott – the Salisbury Vespers. Devon County Junior Choir were a delight and Bath Camerata, who sang from the back of the Cathedral provided an agreeable surround-sound effect. Their voices were well balanced, clear and confident. The Festival Chorus were by now on top form and for the grand climax we had all performers together at the front producing a memorable sound world. Throughout the well thought-out concert programme we were lucky to have the organ playing of David Davies (Assistant Director of Music at the Cathedral), whose accompanying was unstintingly sympathetic and supportive. All was brought together magnificently by the supremo director of both adult choirs, Nigel Perrin.