Wymondham singers get to New York’s famous Carnegie Hall

Wymondham Choral Society performed at New York's famous Carnegie Hall. From left are Joyce Aitchiso

Wymondham Choral Society performed at New York's famous Carnegie Hall. From left are Joyce Aitchison, conductor Claire Dixon, Prudence Ford-Crush, Maggie Martin, Isabel Kingsley, Elizabeth Fletcher, Hilary Hooper and Rachael Lamb. Picture: Courtesy of Wymondham Choral Society - Credit: Archant

The voices of singers from the Wymondham Choral Society have helped to fill one of the world's most famous musical venues - New York's Carnegie Hall.

The perfomers on stage at Carnegie Hall. Picture: Wymondham Choral Society

The perfomers on stage at Carnegie Hall. Picture: Wymondham Choral Society - Credit: Archant

The group of 12 Norfolk singers joined a 300-voice choir made up of vocalists from around the world including Australia, New Zealand and Germany for the Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) event on May 28.

The singers performed the epic piece A German Requiem (Ein deutsches Requiem) by Johannes Brahms.

The members of the Wymondham group were able to take part after chairman Elizabeth Fletcher was contacted by the DCINY last year to se if anyone was interested in taking part.

Performers involved were Joyce Aitchison, conductor Claire Dixon, Prudence Ford-Crush, Maggie Martin, Isabel Kingsley, Elizabeth Fletcher, Hilary Hooper, Rachael Lamb, Alison Willis, Masha Smith, Jason Semmence and Kieren Hill.


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Review from Wymondham Choral Society chairman Liz Fletcher

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Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) continued its Memorial Day weekend extravaganza with an all-Brahms program led by its artistic director and principal conductor, the estimable Jonathan Griffith. Although Ein deutsches Requiem can stand alone as a whole program, Maestro Griffith preceded it with a suitably moody account of the Tragic Overture, one that showcased the depth of the strings' tone beautifully.

Then the massed international choir (288 by my estimate) took the stage for the main event, the consoling 'humanist' (non-liturgical) Requiem Brahms composed, at least partly prompted by the death of his mother.

Maestro Griffith gave a very spacious rendition of the lyrical movements, not leaving any shaping unexplored. Paradoxically, he drove the fugal sections (important portions of movements two, three, and six) quite briskly, causing a loss of some choral clarity and even a few coordination mishaps between choir and orchestra.

Only the benevolent but tyrannical precision of a Robert Shaw, and more rehearsal time, could have solved that issue. Although control of pitch in the softer sections was tentative, the choral sound was thrilling at the louder dynamic levels.

So seductive is the 'surface layer' of the Requiem that we can easily forget just how 'constructed' the piece is: motivic unity among all movements, arch form, symmetry, and massive Bach-inspired fugues. Brahms really poured all his heart AND mind into this, his longest work by far. There is a certain 'churning' of the composer's mind that then opens into worlds of ineffable repose.

The orchestral playing was great, with contrapuntal answering between parts heard in all its mellow clarity, and nice work from all the winds too (so often treacherous)—that I was able to hear this is a testament to the quality of this rendition.

The soloists were both very good, with Andrew McLaughlin delivering emphatic accounts of his, dramatically involved and with vivid diction.

Probably one of the hardest things any soprano has to do is to sit still on stage for thirty-eight minutes through the first four movements and then rise and deliver one of the most difficult solos in the oratorio repertoire.

Claire Kuttler has a voice larger than one is accustomed to hearing in this work, but it soared beautifully out into Carnegie Hall, though at times she appeared to be having breath difficulty. I did enjoy the fullness of her reading, at times even impetuous—it contrasted with the usual 'ethereal' approach.

This Requiem is just the cure for our troubling time that seems to abound in bad news.

Well done!

For more information about the group, visit Wymondham Choral Society

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