Review of "Glorious Haydn!"

Shrewsbury Choral Society delivered a concert last night that was a triumph. Under the leadership of Martin Cook this society has gone from strength to strength, and last night’s programme was a tribute to their imaginative programming and skilful singing. Glorious Haydn was indeed glorious. The programme began with seldom-heard Overture L’Isola Disibitata (The Deserted Island) from a long-since forgotten opera. The orchestra, led by Anne Tupling, fell under the spell of this music, which is certainly in the Sturm und Drang tradition and was played with vitality and vigour.

The choir and orchestra then performed the ever popular and fiery motet, Insanae et vanae curae. Both performed with vitality and clarity that befitted the text. We were then delighted by Ines Mota’s performance of the Cello concerto in C. Here is a young soloist who plays with assurance, technical skill and musicality that communicates directly with the audience. Her performance delighted the audience and was an absolute triumph.

After the interval the choir gave a stunning performance of the Missa in Tempore Belli (Mass in Time of War, also known as the Paukemesse for its significant use of drums and trumpets). The four soloists, Catriona Hewitson, Ayaka Tanimoto, Joseph Spratt and Peter Edge, gave us assured and beautiful performances, especially in the Benedictus. The choir sang with passion and skill producing a wide range of dynamics and colour that befitted the text throughout. This choir has gone from strength to strength and produces a powerful and beautiful tone that communicates with the audience.

some reactions from the audience

"An excellent concert; wonderfully entertaining because of the consistently high standards and variety."

"The mass was a superb and colourful achievement."

"Lovely programme."

"We enjoyed the mix and it didn't drag on. Excellent conductor, very professional. The cellist was outstanding. Lovely to see young talent nurtured. The energy and responsiveness of the choir to demanding music was impressive."

Audience comments on the summer concert 2017

"It was a lovely mixture of periods and styles from a wide range of composers"

"Very good indeed"

"Beautiful sound, lovely choice of music, great venue"

"It was absolutely amazing. I sat down listening to this choir and relaxed and heard songs of joy and praise."

A review of the Mozart concert, 1 April 2017

Shrewsbury Choral Society thrilled a near-capacity audience in St Chad’s Church last Saturday (1 April) with a memorable performance of Mozart’s ‘Requiem’.

The all Mozart concert, given by the choir with the Shrewsbury Sinfonia, began with a sprightly performance by the orchestra of the Overture to The Magic Flute, to set the mood for a delightful evening of the music of this much-loved composer.

The choir and orchestra then joined together for a moving rendering of the ‘Ave Verum Corpus’, one of Mozart’s best known choral pieces. The instruments and voices were well matched and brought out the perfect beauty of the work.

In a new venture for the choir, they included in their programme a performance of one of Mozart’s best known concertos, Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major. The pianist was Lee Jae Phang, a post graduate student of Graham Scott at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. He has earned many awards while at the College and performs frequently in venues across the North East of England, leading his own piano trio too.

Lee Jae gave a sparkling and note-perfect performance of the concerto, at times leaving the audience gasping at his mastery of the keyboard. Shrewsbury is indeed fortunate to attract such excellent musicians, and this concert will be remembered for a long time.

The final work was the Requiem. Soloists were Margaret Ferguson (soprano) Helena Cooke (contralto), John Bowen (tenor) and David Cane (bass). Margaret Ferguson is a highly experienced singer, who has sung operas and oratorios in venues across the UK and Europe. In another side to her, she is musical director of Manchester Gospel Choir and teaches Ghanaian drumming, singing and dancing. With that range of activities behind her, it is easy to see how she excelled in the soprano role in the dramatic Requiem.

Alongside her, Helena Cooke showed us a wonderful, full contralto voice. Her experience includes singing with top church choirs in London, and she has sung with Genesis Sixteen. John Bowen (tenor) graduated from being a chorister at King’s College in Cambridge to singing in concerts across Europe, particularly specializing in baroque opera.

David Cane brought a sonorous note to the quartet. He too sang as a choral scholar at King’s College: his broadcasts include the Nine Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve. He has won several awards while studying at the Royal Northern College of Music; his performances include composers as varied as Sondheim and Kurt Weill.

For the Requiem the choir and orchestra, under Musical Director Martin Cook, rose to the occasion, bringing out the drama and passion put into the work by Mozart. He wrote it as he was nearing the end of his life – indeed he died before it was completed and parts of it were completed by his student, Franz Süssmayr. But, as in this performance, the overall effect is totally mesmerizing, with whispered quiet passages and dramatic fortissimos, including three trombones in this performance.

This was indeed a concert to remember, and we hope that next year’s Haydn concert will repeat this great success.

what the audience thought

"Wonderful programme and beautifully executed!"

"Exhilarating and enthralling. A very high standard both chorally and orchestrally. The Requiem was really uplifting."

"Excellent in all respects. A Mozartian cornucopia."

"Absolutely wonderful. An amazing programme, performed superbly - and in my home town!"

"A wonderful, well-chosen programme, performed to a high standard. Most enjoyable. The Requiem was very movingly sung by the choir, especially the Lacrimosa."

"Requiem fantastic - you really raised the roof!"


audience reviews of "joy to the world", december 16 2016

"Beautiful sound. Relaxed and thoroughly enjoyed listening." E.L.

"Beautiful candlelight carols. wonderful Christmas experience. A perfect performance." P.D.

"Beautiful! Spiritual! Thank you!" Anon.

"Full of gusto!" G.O.

"Lovely - very uplifting" S.D.

"Wonderful concert. Brilliant singing." Eileen

"Lovely singing - well done the choir!" Anon.

"Such heavenly voices!" J.J.

"Very lovely - splendid programme, very varied and top quality. THANK YOU ALL!" Anon.