Keswick Hall Choir

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Norwich Cathedral

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

Norwich Cathedral

Hearty applause at the end saluted another fine performance by Keswick Hall Choir and 25 years' service by John Aplin as its conductor. His imaginative and determined efforts have won him the gratitude and respect of both the public and his singers.

The programme on this occasion focused on sacred music from the last half century.


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Just how to work up to an inspiring conclusion was shown in an austere and concentrated setting of the Beatitudes, by Paert. The pulse and the rich reverberations of Andrew Newman's gong added to the overwhelming climax of Tavener's emotionally charged Mother and Child.

Adopting a restrained manner for Take Him, Howells' elegant, typically Anglican tribute to the late President Kennedy, the singers next fearlessly confronted greater challenges in Whitacre's When David Heard. It gave fresh vigour to the bible text, refusing to find easy consolations when grief kept pressing in.

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Lux Aeterna, by Lauridsen, another contemporary American composer, also took familiar words and renewed them in a style that was modern, yet accessible.

Confidently taking everything in its stride, even the baffling complexities of Nystedt's Immortal Bach, the choir was in impressive form, despite some shrill moments from the sopranos at altitudes that really ought not to trouble.

David Dunnett showed skill in maintaining balance between the voices and the organ, while adding colour and power. In Locklair's Rubrics he grasped a solo opportunity with both hands and feet. He even gave the cymbal star a whirl.

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