An evening of delight and harmony

ON SATURDAY in St John’s Episcopal Church, Forfar, Angus Choral Society presented their spring concert before a large, appreciative audience.

The performance was dedicated to the memory of one of the choir members, Sylvia Ramsay, who, sadly, passed away recently.

Under the expert direction of Mary Veal the choir displayed some remarkable effects in tonal variation; great power and beautifully controlled soft singing as demanded by the scores. It was good to hear the sopranos reaching dizzy heights with such confidence and the basses having to ‘dig deeper’, and ‘soaring’ beyond their comfort zone.

The first half to the programme consisted of Parry’s ‘I was glad’, C.V. Stanford’s ‘Justorum animae’ and ‘Beati quorum via’, and Balfour Gardiner’s ‘Evening Hymn’. The introduction to this latter piece, where the organ registrations suddenly changed every two bars or so, left one wondering what was to follow from the choir. However, we were not disappointed as the piece turned into a rendition of great quality, the vocal sound building in dignified strength and, in contrast, the closing ‘Amen’ section gradually disappearing into almost inaudibility was most effective.

The choral pieces were interspersed by some delightful short organ solos, from the same era, by Graeme Stevenson who also provided well-balanced support to the choir.

The second half of the programme was devoted to the Angus premiere of a much lesser-known work by the American composer, Morten Lauridsen - ‘Lux Aeterna’. The five movements were performed without a break, accompanied by a most skilled ensemble giving much tonal and dynamic colour to the performance.

This modern piece, as one might expect, is littered with rather angular part writing and atonal harmonies which certainly stretched the choir’s courage and ability to the extreme. However, the hard work done in rehearsals paid off.

B.H.