REVIEW: Amelia aims for new heights in solo debut

Amelia Craddock poses for the camera during the interval   PHOTO: Frances Newman '
Amelia Craddock poses for the camera during the interval PHOTO: Frances Newman '

ARUNDEL Cathedral chorister Amelia Craddock took another step forward in her highly promising musical development with a cameo performance of Pie Jesu in Fauré’s Requiem at the cathedral on Saturday (March 21).

The 17-year-old Brighton College sixth-former delighted the large audience for the Angmering Chorale’s concert with the Sinfonia of Arun orchestra.

Amelia, who also sang a soprano solo in the live BBC 1 television transmission of the midnight mass at the cathedral on Christmas Eve, showed no sign of nerves in her debut in an orchestral choral work, her crystal clear voice soaring high into the stone arches above, yet even and well-paced.

We were all left wondering where her talent will take her next – Amelia is a member of the Millennium Youth Choir, regularly featuring on BBC national radio, is her college’s head chorister, and is in demand as a soloist.

The Fauré anchored this evening, a reassuring rock for singers, musicians and audience alike, following the opening Messa di Gloria, by Puccini, an intriguing work written by the composer at the age of 22. It blends the sacred with the operatic and passages which would not have seemed out of place in a military march, sounding, at times, like a South American national anthem you might hear at the Olympics.

With such strident orchestration, the choir had a challenge overcoming the brass, timpani and powerful strings, although bass-baritone James Oldfield came over loud and clear, especially in the Gloria, and in the Agnus Dei, joined by tenor Anthony Flaum, a wonderful pairing of voices.

Fauré followed the interval, familiar territory on which all seemed more comfortable. Singers and musicians were in a more equal engagement, with musical director George Jones bringing the best out of both in the Requiem, performed by the choir earlier this month in the Brandenburg Choral Festival in London. Amelia may have added a youthful sparkle, but this was a fine delivery all round of a choral classic.

The high standard was maintained for Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna, a moving 20th century American composition and a memorable finale.