MICHAEL DRAKE St Peter Mancroft, Norwich


Traditionally the Orthodox Church's all-night vigil runs from sunset to sunrise, and although the Rachmaninov 'vespers' lasted but 99 minutes, such was the spirituality and exactitude of this outstanding mixed-voice choir that the full church audience would, I am sure, have been delighted had there been more.

I may have said something similar when the group last visited Norwich a couple of years ago, but it had the desired effect of this return visit, before they go on to perform in St Paul's Cathedral tonight.

The atmosphere was enhanced by the choir's candlelight backing as their full sound rang out exultantly.

Interpretation of such Orthodox singing demands secure foundations and this was ever present, but director Nigel Short always kept it totally within unfailing vocal balance and purity of tone, allied to a dynamic range from subtly coloured to emphatically powerful.

Each section was prefaced by solo introductions characteristically intoned by the Deacon (Cantor), Peter Scorer.

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It was an emotionally exciting vocal experience.

But so consistent was the singing that it is judged on the whole.

However there were some 'tingling' moments, notably at the setting of the Nunc Dimitis and the most reverential Lord's Prayer.

It was also a message for religious harmony.