June 2008: Four Choir Verdi Requiem

Exeter Cathedral, 28 June 2008

For our Exeter Summer Festival concert this year, we continue to develop musical friendships with choirs from Exeter's twin cities in Germany and France. We welcome back to Exeter fellow choristers from Bad Homburg and Hanau and meet for the first time fellow choristers from Rennes. The four choirs join forces for Verdi's monumental Requiem, his operatic setting of the mass, which uses the huge chorus and mighty percussion section of the orchestra to thrilling effect.

Exeter Express and Echo

Source: David Marston (July 1 2008)

My heart sang to joined choir

A NIGHTMARE of logistics must have preceded this Exeter Summer Festival concert.

Not only were the massed voices of the Exeter Festival Chorus in action; they were joined by choirs from Exeter’s twin French and German cities of Rennes and Bad Homburg, as well as another from Hanau in Germany. That's around 200 voices.

Added to that was the full might of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, along with four guest soloists.

No doubt about it: this was An Event, and no wonder tickets flew out of the box office. People had been badgering for returns for weeks, and tickets that were returned were snapped up at once.

Was it all worth it? Resoundingly, yes. All those long hours of preparations, logistical and musical, really paid dividends. This was a concert that wowed the audience and ended in a standing ovation.

Although Verdi is better known for opera, his Requiem is a magisterial piece with drama, contrasts and wonderfully rich melodies. Despite the epic size of the choir, Saturday's performance offered moments of haunting gentleness and simplicity alongside the wall-of-sound impact.

The sheer grandeur of the Tuba mirum, launched by trumpets sounding out before being driven along by all voices at full,full volume will be hard to forget; while tile BSO's hugely hearty brass section were back in action for the joyful Sanctus.

Top-notch soloists Natalya Kreslina, Yvonne Fontane, Justin Lavender and Gerard O'Connor were a blessing and were marshalled along with everybody else by the ever-enthusiastic and perceptive conductor Nigel Perrin.

I would rather have heard this without the long interval, but that's a quibble.

What a marvellous event.

The logistical nightmare resulted in a dream concert.