Concert Reviews

7th December 2019

South Nutfield Choral Society’s Christmas Concert at Christ Church, South Nutfield was a most imaginatively programmed and enjoyable evening, ably directed as always by Sue Hughes. It comprised seasonal choral works with lighter pieces including a concluding medley of Christmas carols with enthusiastic audience participation.

Faure’s Requiem in D Minor with its underlying theme of eternal rest and comfort sought by the composer following his father’s death is one of the most familiar works in the choral repertory. Here the choir began with a steady progression towards the eventual climax, always reflecting both tenderness and urgency with well controlled and contrasted dynamics and feeling, rising to great expectancy in Libera Me. Alex Jones impressed with his rich and well-focused baritone voice in the Offertoire. Special mention should also be made of the soprano Jenny Maddox, who sang Pie Jesu with affecting simplicity and beauty.

This was followed by the two songs by Peter Warlock, The First Mercy and Bethlehem Down based on nativity stories which were sung with a vivid and imposing sense of storytelling by Alex Jones. The first half of the evening ended with the choir’s lively rendition of Henderson’s arrangement of the traditional Catalan carol Fum, fum, fum

The second half opened with Michael Head’s charming work The Little Road to Bethlehem in which the tenor David Brown sang with great sensitivity and affection.

The major work in this half was Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols and here the chorus found their peak form. The affirmation of the opening Procession and closing Recession, sense of mystery in the anonymous That Yongĕ Child, the struggle prophesied in This little babe and the apt coldness of In Freezing Winter Night were all ably suggested. The lively participation of the soprano and mezzo soprano soloists in Spring Carol were also moving and delightful.

Finally, special mention should also be made of the alert and inspired organ and piano accompaniment throughout of Tom Little in his final appearance with the choir before taking up his new post at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.

1st December 2018

South Nutfield Choral Society staged their annual Winter concert last Saturday 1st December in Christ Church, South Nutfield.

The first work performed was the much-loved Requiem by John Rutter which was sung with great accuracy and commitment by the choir under the baton of Sue Hughes.  Mrs Hughes has certainly worked wonders with this choir and the resulting sound was most impressive. The solo soprano parts were sung beautifully by Rachel Anderson, who has studied singing under Sue Hughes.  Rachel is certainly a young lady to watch out for!  The accompaniment was competently handled by Hilary Taylor (cello), Mark Evans (oboe) and Tom Little (organ).

After a short break, the second half of the concert began with an arrangement of Offenbach's inspired Barcarolle - sung as a duet.  Once again, this was beautifully sung by Olivia Lewis (soprano) and Olympia Hetherington (mezzo-soprano). This was certainly a memorable and enjoyable part of this concert

The final work was the little-known Introduction & Gloria in D major, (RV 639/588) by Antonio Vivaldi. This is a wonderful piece which was sung with gusto and delicacy by the choir. The sometimeschallenging solo pieces were sung with great commitment and feeling by the two young lady soloists.

This wonderful evening concluded with a lovely social occasion at the Society's traditional buffet, provided by members of the choir. I thoroughly enjoyed this concert – thank you South Nutfield Choral Society!

5th December 2015

South Nutfield held a most successful concert at Christ Church, South Nutfield, on Saturday 5th December.  The Church was full with an audience of over 80 people who seemed most enthusiastic about the concert when everyone gathered in the Church hall later in the evening to enjoy drinks and a light buffet.

The music was an unusual but exciting mixture starting with the Bob Chilcott’s well loved ‘A Little Jazz Mass’. This work was accompanied by pianist, Gareth Hemmings, electric double bass player, Helen Rowlands, and drummer, Tom Hughes.  Our Tenor soloist, David Brown gave a lovely performance of Holy Boy by John Ireland, followed by jazz pianist Gareth Hemmings playing ‘A Christmas Medley’ – an amusing mixture of well-known Christmas tunes.

The second work to be performed by the choir was the popular ‘Gloria’ by Francis Poulenc and this was accompanied by organist, John Sharples.  The soprano solos were beautifully sung by Margaret Pearman.

During the short break Colin Vine gave a brief talk about the charity CHECK which carries out wonderful work in schools and at a hospital in Kimilili in Kenya.  The money raised for CHECK at this concert, totalled £127.44 which was most pleasing.

The concert resumed with two solo Items by Katy Anderson who attends St Bede’s School.  She sang two works beautifully and was accompanied by musical director Sue Hughes, and percussionists John Rockliffe & Nigel Shipway.  The first piece was ‘When Christmas Comes to Town (from The Polar Express, 2004) and she was joined by her mother Angela to sing Eric Boswell’s Little Donkey.

The choir finished the concert performing a wonderful work by Argentinian composer Ariel Ramirez.  The work,’ Navidad Nuestra’ tells the nativity story in a colourful, rhythmical and lively manner and required the choir to learn Argentinian Spanish.  In addition to the double bass player and pianist, the choir was joined by percussionists John Rockliffe & Nigel Shipway, accordion player Serguei Pachnine  and Tom Hughes on acoustic guitar. David Brown sang the solo tenor part and was joined for some parts by choir members Russell Braund and Peter Davies. This proved a rousing way to conclude this wonderful concert and the choir clearly enjoyed singing this unusual work. 

This was an ambitious concert and credit must go to Sue Hughes who worked extremely hard on coordinating the concert, finding the different musicians and ensuring that the choir had the confidence to perform such a varied programme.

16th May 2015

South Nutfield Choral Society staged their Summer Concert last Saturday and it is no exaggeration to say that it was a triumph.  It was clear that a lot of hard work had been put in, under the capable direction of Sue Hughes, the Society's relatively new Musical Director.  Indeed, I have rarely heard the choir perform better: the voices blended together well, everyone was exactly on the beat and their diction was superb.

The opening piece, Handel's Chandos Anthem "O Praise the Lord with one Consent" was sung with gusto, as were various other choral pieces of English origin.  However, the best item in my view was Vaughan Williams' Benedicite, a difficult piece which was sung with great commitment and precision.  The soprano solos were sung by Heather Caddick, who really came into her own in the Vaughan Willliams.  Piano and organ accompaniment were ably provided by Andrew Cantrill, a long term friend of the Society, who also played selections from Richard III by William Walton.

Various works were sung by a small ensemble including Angela Anderson, Ekaterina Barkova, Jenny Maddox, Brenda Nash, Ali Thornton, Russell Braund and Pete Davies.  Particularly moving was a quartet's rendering of Byrd's Ave Verum Corpus.

As well as the choral works we were treated to Maria Greenhalgh playing Fields of Gold by Sting on the Northumbrian Pipes and some lively  works by Cecilia McDowall for flute and piano played by Richard Guise accompanied by Sylvia Ford.

This was an ambitious concert staged by a choir which is well loved in South Nutfield and beyond and I feel certain that they will continue to go from strength to strength.

29th November 2014

The concert given by The South Nutfield Choral Society on Saturday Nov. 29th, to a large audience at Christ Church South Nutfield, comprised Charpentier's Messe de Minuit Pour Noël and Vivaldi's Gloria in D.

The former started off at a confident and lively pace under the skilful guidance of Sue Hughes - the choir's new Musical Director - who has had a lifetime's involvement in choral music as a singer, accompanist and conductor. The organ accompaniment was ably played by Ian le Grice and the soprano solos beautifully performed, with style and elegance, by Nicola Corbishley while the other solo parts were sung most competently by choir members Ekaterina Barkova, Alison Thornton, Russell Braund and Peter Davies. The choir's singing of the choruses was rhythmic, well-balanced and with clear diction.

Nicola Corbishley and Judy Brown (mezzo soprano) continued the programme with 3 delightful French songs - sensitively accompanied by Ian le Grice and Sue Hughes on the piano - including the famous Flower Duet from Delibes' Lakmé - which was truly moving. 

After the interval there was an excellent performance of Vivaldi's well-known Gloria in D with Francis Dickinson (a member of Redhill Sinfonia) playing the violin obbligato to accompany the soprano solo, 'Domine Deus'. The duet, Laudamus te, was beautifully sung by Nicola Corbishley and Jenny Maddox (choir soprano), and Judy Brown delivered the alto solos with great expression and delicacy. The piece danced along seamlessly leaving one feeling happy and exhilarated.

I thoroughly enjoyed the whole evening's music and feel sure that South Nutfield Choral Society has an exciting future ahead under the sympathetic leadership of Sue Hughes.


30th November 2013

South Nutfield Choral Society's Autumn concert took place in front of a large audience in Christ Church, South Nutfield.

Two works were performed: the motet "Jesu Priceless Treasure" (“Jesu Meine Freude”) by J S Bach and the much loved "Requiem" by Gabriel Fauré.  The concert was conducted by Christopher Pratt and accompanied on the organ by Andrew Cantrill.

The Bach motet in eleven sections is one of his most demanding works and the choir gave a performance that clearly represented a huge amount of work by an amateur group. There were some occasions when insecurity showed but these did not detract from providing an enjoyable performance which demonstrated great musical commitment and enthusiasm - particularly in

those sections which were variations on the Lutheran Chorale "Jesu Meine Freude". A particularly impressive section occurred when the two soprano parts duetted over a "walking bass" sung by the choir gentlemen while a semichorus of altos and basses sang the chorale melody. Here was some exquisite, sensitive singing!

In the Fauré Requiem the choir excelled itself. It was joined by soloists Leah Perona-Wright (soprano) and Jamie Cordell (baritone) who both gave moving performances.  Jamie demonstrated beautiful phrasing and a gentle but plangent tone particularly in the iconic "Libera Me Domine".  Leah's high, clear un-operatic tone was ideally suited to the famous "Pie  Jesu" and she also treated the audience to the famous arrangement by Gounod of Bach's 1st keyboard prelude set to the wonderful "Ave Maria" text.

The choir responded with a performance of outstanding sensitivity. Its diction was uncluttered and precise. It's dynamic range and attack were superb - on occasions almost frightening! The sopranos truly became a "chorus angelorum" and the hushed audience appreciation as the work finished was palpable.  Andrew Cantrill achieved a remarkable range of tone colour on the organ and supported the choir superbly

Audience reaction indicated that this was a concert to remember and of which the choir and its conductor can be truly proud.

11th May 2013

The main piece was Flanders & Horovitz' "Captain Noah and His Floating Zoo", a light-hearted, syncopated take on the story of Noah's Ark, in which the Choir and some 'home-grown' soloists (notably Peter Davies as God and Nick Case-Green as Noah) excelled themselves under the enthusiastic direction of conductor Christopher Pratt.  The Choir's diction and, for want of a better word, 'togetherness', were all that we have come to expect from this Society.  The Choir were energetically accompanied by Philippa Winstanley (piano), Conor Dunlea (bass guitar) and Bradley Wool (drums).

Following this, we were treated to some familiar choruses by Gilbert & Sullivan and a selection of 'standards' by such as Cole Porter and George Gershwin.  In particular the latter included Let's Do It and Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, with a moving solo by Brenda Nash.  All of these were sung with great enthusiasm and conviction by the Choir.  In addition, the choral works were interspersed with some pieces for flute and piano, excellently played by Richard Guise and Sylvia Ford, and some enthralling music for Irish Pipes by Maria Greenhalgh.   All in all, another most entertaining evening by South Nutfield's well-loved Choir.

8th December 2012

South Nutfield Choral Society performed Mendelssohn's Elijah on Saturday, 8th December, to a packed audience in Christ Church, South Nutfield. The choir performed this epic work under the capable direction of Christopher Pratt and it was clear that the long hours of rehearsal had paid off. The choir responded well to the conductor and the 'cut-offs' at the end of each section were absolutely together - one of the marks of a good choir. The dynamics, diction and phrasing could not be faulted.

The "Angels' Chorus" (often sung by soloists but on this occasion, admirably, by all the sopranos and altos) and the full choruses "Be not afraid" and "He that shall endure", together with the soloists' quartet towards the end of the work, were especially memorable.

The solo parts were performed by Michael Hickman (Bass), Libby Egwuba (Soprano), Felicity

Smith (Mezzo Soprano) and David Brown (Tenor). The work demands a huge amount from "Elijah" and Michael Hickman sang the role with wonderful power and great dramatic conviction. He is, in my view, a young man destined to go far. The other soloists supported the dramatic narrative with great musical sensitivity. One must here mention David Brown's magical rendition of the short passage describing an exhausted Elijah sleeping "under a juniper tree in the wilderness".

The organ accompaniment was brilliantly played by Andrew Cantrill, proving that such a work can be performed without the traditional full orchestra. It was, all in all, a memorable concert, and all credit must go to Christopher Pratt and his forces.