7th May 2016

Review by Theresa Finzi


What a treat it was to be able to attend the Cirencester Choral society’s concert in the Parish Church last night!

The programme, performed to a packed audience, was a wonderfully balanced mixture of Elgar and Chilcott, with an assortment of Elgar’s church music taking the first half while the second half of the concert was the beautiful setting of the Requiem Mass by Bob Chilcott.

The concert started with the Te Deum and the choir was able to set its stamp of high standards from the very opening chord. Throughout the concert they sang with total confidence and unity whilst sharing a a glorious range of sounds and dynamic contrasts with the audience. The choir presented itself as a highly trained ensemble, thanks to the excellent direction from its conductor Carleton Etherington, and this proved to be the case throughout the evening. Accompanied by David Whitehead’s superb organ playing, the choir never faltered in its performance. The Te Deum was followed by a beautifully delivered performance of Ave Verum Corpus in which the lyricism and dynamic variety were displayed with every breath. We were also privileged to be able to share a beautiful performance of the Suite for Organ, Op14, which David Whitehead played after the Te Deum. The colours and shapes he drew from the organ were absolutely compelling and you could have heard a pin drop as the audience sat spell bound throughout the piece. The first half of the concert ended with two more pieces by Elgar, O Salutaris Hostia and Benedictus, both of which continued with the high standards set in the other pieces. O Salutaris is peppered with tricky entries, none of which managed to confound the choir and again, they sang with full command of the melodic line demanded by the music.

The Requiem by Bob Chilcott that was performed in the second half of the concert is a wonderful setting of the Mass. From it’s dark and somber opening it moves through a range of emotions to the warm and comforting Lux Aeterna at the conclusion of the piece. The choir was joined by two soloists, soprano Hilary Cronin and tenor Ruairi Bowen, for this piece, both of whom are young professionals at the start of what look promising to be highly successful careers. They both sang with full command of the lyrical lines whilst being sensitively and sympathetically accompanied by the choir and the sounds they produced were both warm, inviting and full of rich depths and floated effortlessly over the choir and organ without any hint of forcing or strain. The choir maintained its benchmark high standards and also proved able to cope with a variety of musical styles when they sang the jazzy Sanctus with such obvious enjoyment!

We were all left wishing for far more at the end of the evening and can but look forward to the next concert. A huge well done to all who performed and a heartfelt thank you for a tremendous concert!