Spring 2013


Saturday 27 April at 7.30pmThe Concert Hall, Reading

THE opening of Joseph Haydn’s The Creation was pure theatre. It started in pretty gloomy light and I was worried about the choristers who were singing in the dark. The optically-challenged among them surely would not be able to read their scores. Not to worry — as they sang ‘Let There Be Light’ the stage was flooded with bright light right on cue.

Haydn wrote this work having been influenced by very large choral concerts in London. Last Saturday night, a choir of 165 singers performed it. The South Chiltern Choral Society was joined by Ensemble Vocal de Meylan from the Rhône-Alpes region of France.

As the orchestra filled most of the stage the singers spilled over into the tiered choir seats which form the backdrop on both sides of the Father Willis organ. This is important for the sound as it comes out over the top of the orchestra rather than having to compete with it.

There were three soloists for the recitatives and airs and all three produced quality singing with the highlight being the trios and duets where they carefully coordinated their dynamics and timing to great effect. Soprano Helen Winter’s beautiful voice was able to penetrate the orchestra even at its loudest. Stephen John Svanholm (baritone) had an effortless style and tenor Ian Massa-Harris provided some exciting singing.

The chorus ‘The Heavens Are Telling’ was the highlight of this marvellous concert. Much praise must go to conductor Gwyn Arch who was really impressive to watch.

John Evans
Henley Standard

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