Harleston Choral Society

MICHAEL DRAKE Mary Magdalen Church, Pulham Market

MICHAEL DRAKE

The opportunity to try to make the sounds composers had in mind is a rewarding one and that is just what this community choir does. To be honest they didn't look as if they were enjoying Satur-day's programme, but that was because of the concentration of minds on two contrasting pieces.

Guest conductor Kenneth Hytch directed singers and a chamber orchestra in positive, even stately manner, starting with his own composition, the Octagon Psalms. With words selected from the Book of Psalms the small orchestra moved easily from a declamatory and percussive opening to more colourful background to the choir's unison – something the singers might have emulated rather better for appeared not to believe in their own ability. The more legato lines of Faure's Requiem suited them better and for both chorus and instrumentalists the Agnus Dei was the centrepiece of the evening in producing better tuning and projection allied to dynamic variation and good balance.

Often judged by the quality of the soprano Pie Jesu, Zoe Ramsden's confident clarity and reverence ensured its overall impact with Keith Beck's light baritone solos warm and controlled.

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