Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Society’s first silver band outing was perfect tonic

PANGBOURNE Choral Society’s summer concert was the first ever with a Silver Band.

PANGBOURNE Choral Society’s summer concert was the first ever with a Silver Band.

The choice of music was unintentionally topical, featuring works by great English composers Parry, Elgar, Rutter, Wesley and Bainton.

The finale of Parry’s Jerusalem will have been a particular joy for some following the EU referendum but the whole programme said a lot for the uplifting and healing properties of good choral music.

The Wantage Silver Band was PCS’s chosen partner in this venture and they performed pieces by Glinka ( Overture to Ruslan and Lyudmila) and Paul Lovatt-Cooper ( Vitae Aeternum).

The Glinka was taken a brisk pace and their conductor, Craig Patterson, controlled his players in exemplary fashion and the result was at times breath-taking.

The acoustics of the Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel ensured great intensity in the fortissimo sections. The Vitae Aeturnum contained some truly beautiful and tender interpretation, which one does not normally associate with a brass wind ensemble.

In between, we had the joy of listening to James Bowstead, accompanist to PCS, on the organ, who took on Max Reger’s fiendishly difficult Dankpsalm.

This was PCS’s Music Director, Roy Raby’s last concert on the podium before taking up his new post as music director of King Alfred School, Golders Green, London. After a rendition of his own short composition, All Shall Be Well, next was works by two Victorian composers: Samuel Wesley and Edgar Bainton. Both had lovely melodic themes building to fine climaxes.

Soft legato singing is never as easy as it sounds and the choir achieved an excellent romantic backdrop to the climactic moments. And so to Rutter’s Gloria where band and choir came together for the first time.

The opening Gloria was as loud and confident as the following Domine Deus was soft and reflective. And the finale Quoniam tu solus was fast, furious, and building to the exhilarating celebratory Gloria and Amen passages.

Elgar’s The Spirit of the Lord saw a return to softer, more lyrical singing with organ accompaniment. The composer’s beautiful lacework of themes and inner harmonies were clearly expressed and phrased.

For the finale, Parry’s Jerusalem, the audience was invited to stand and join in.

In a week of great uncertainty and turmoil, this concert was a real tonic, and a fitting sign-off for Raby. The choir was in good voice and coped admirably on their debut with the excellent silver band.

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