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Newark Choral Society at Barnbygate Methodist Church

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Newark Choral Society has clearly suffered, like many other choirs, with numbers as a result of the pandemic, however, not in the quality of the singing and performance.

The choir was well balanced, maintaining its ability to always be in tune.

The opening item was Mozart’s Ave verum corpus, which was well phrased with good dynamics. It was an excellent start.

Barnbygate Methodist Church. (7045527)

The choir was then joined by soprano Caroline Sharpe for another Mozart favourite, Laudate Dominum, from the Solemn Vespers for a Confessor.

This was Caroline’s first engagement with the society and I hope it is not the last. She sang beautifully, as did Rosemary Braddy, mezzo-soprano in Return, Return O lord of Hosts from Handel’s oratorio Sampson.

The twenty-year-old Harun Tekin, tenor, originally from Woodall Spa, was another new voice to Newark. His performance of Gounod’s Ave Maria was fresh, his young voice sounded mature as the chorus supported his solo.

The choir had changed its original program to include the Platinum Jubilee anthem In Our Service, the text of which was based upon words spoken by her late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

The first half concluded with a very good performance of Haydn’s Te deum No2. This has some tricky fugues to sing, rapid changes of tempo and hardly time to breathe, but Newark Choral Society took these in its stride, showing the quality of its singing.

The second half consisted of Haydn’s Missa in Angustiis, usually referred to as the Nelson Mass because Lord Nelson attended a performance after one of his many victories. This was a particular choice of the society’s new Director of Music, Robert-John Edwards who wanted to challenge his singers.

We were introduced to the voice of Meilir Jones, from Anglesey, who last sang with Newark Choral Society in 2018. The development and quality of his bass tones singing the Qui tollis bode well for his future career.

Starting with a dynamic Kyrie eleison, the performance, which involves the choir in all but one movement, grew in quality as it progressed so that at the end the voices did not sound tired at all.

The interchanging between soloists and chorus in the Kyrie, Gloria and Incarnatus was seamless, as if there had been more than one afternoon’s rehearsal!

The fugues were well executed and the two Hosannas demonstrated the choir’s discipline.

The Credo, when the contraltos and basses chase the sopranos and tenors, while the pedals on the organ have the real musical fun showed the society’s sense of fun as it enjoyed this tricky movement.

What particularly impressed the audience was the soprano section, which one visiting singer said did not scream the high notes, unlike some other groups.

The evening was accompanied by Mike Dutton, on the organ. He played brilliantly; there were a lot of notes!

The concert was directed by Robert-John Edwards, his first solo outing with Newark Choral Society which can only be described as a triumph.

The only disappointing part of the evening was the size of the audience. Many music lovers missed a treat. — JWM.



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