Arundel Cathedral Choral Concert – Saturday 22nd November 2014

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The Angmering Chorale, Sinfonia of Arun (leader Robin Morrish) and soloists Jennifer France (soprano), Marie Elliott (mezzo), James Geer (tenor), Bradley Travis (bass-baritone) and Robin Morrish (violin). Conductor: George Jones.

At their latest concert in Arundel Cathedral, the Angmering Chorale commenced with a fine performance of Beethoven’s Mass in C. Both the Chorale and its excellent guest soloists clearly revelled in the composer’s masterful scoring and this was accompanied, with utmost sensitivity by the fine musicians of the Sinfonia of Arun. All of the soloists gave impressive contributions and each of the work’s 6 sections exhibited singing of the highest order with the orchestral solos complementing everything magnificently, especially those for clarinet and horn in the concluding Agnus Dei.

The Lark Ascending, one of the best known and loved works for solo violin and orchestra, was composed by Vaughan Williams in 1914, originally with piano accompaniment. Although the first public performance took place after the end of WW1, its inclusion in this programme was a fitting commemoration of the centenary of the war’s outbreak. Robin Morrish, stalwart leader of the Sinfonia, mesmerised us with an outstanding performance, capturing all of the beauty of the lark soaring in flight – a truly sensuous rendition which fully merited the appreciative applause at its conclusion.

Haydn’s Nelson Mass, apparently so named because the famous Admiral and Lady Hamilton attended an Esterhazy performance in 1800, matched the Beethoven with similarly accomplished singing and playing throughout, not least from the splendid young soprano, Jennifer France who is clearly destined for a long and fruitful career in her chosen profession. Reminiscent of the ascending lark, she soared high above orchestra and chorus especially in the opening Kyrie.

This concert featured the combined forces of over 130 performers and, with the vast array of talent and quality music on the programme, one might easily forget the “Man of the Match”. That award must surely go to the evening’s architect, conductor and choral trainer, George Jones who has recently celebrated a significant Birthday. Concerts of such quality depend for their success not only upon the performers on the night but also upon diligent preparation and rehearsal beforehand. Hearty congratulations to everyone but especially to George on a job well done!

Jim Hurdwell