Aldeburgh Festival Chorus

Michael DrakeOrford ChurchMichael Drake

Orford Church

An amalgam of professional, adult and children's choirs tackled a programme of (mainly) a capella music yesterday afternoon as they joined forces in this accoustically bright building.

The eight members of the brilliant Exaudi, with James Weeks directing, first showed extreme clarity in Stravinsky's The Dove Descending.

They followed this with a gentility in Britten's We are the Darkness' before making an explosion of vocal sounds in the first performance of an Aldeburgh commission in contemporary composer Morgan Hayes' E Vesuvio Monte. Words from a 1st C poet describing a volcanic explosion seemed extraordinary for a choral setting - or did he have Iceland in mind? Whatever the inspiration Exaudi demonstrated extraordinary vocal skill in a musical eruption.

The Britten-Pears Chamber Choir and Abbey Chapel Choir conducted by Ben Parry had opened with Luciano Berio's Sicilian love song before the young voices of the North Suffolk Youth Choir presented some typical Britten arrangements. With the larger ensemble Britten's Advance Democracy and Pacifist March of the 1930s were percussive, passionate and committed, with much unison singing.

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