The perfect tonic for a winter-weary audience

The following is a review of the concert held on 23rd March 2013 prepared by Keith Nixon and published in The Sunderland Echo on the 28th March 2013.

“Three cheers for the Bishopwearmouth Choral Society! Their Spring concert proved to be the perfect tonic for a winter-weary audience.

Conductor David Murray chose an all-English programme: two ceremonial works, an Elgar favourite and a Walton blockbuster. It proved to be an inspired choice as the high quality of music-making demonstrated.

The concert began with a performance of Walton’s Crown Imperial. The orchestra delighted in the pomp and circumstance of the march and it proved to be the perfect introduction to the concert.

Elgar’s Serenade for Strings is a lovely work, the very essence of the English countryside. Murray brought out a terrific performance from his players: the slow movement, in particular, was beautifully phrased.

The coronation anthem I Was Glad by Parry is a rousing piece and gave the choir the perfect opportunity to show off their vocal range. The cries of Vivat! never fail to make the hairs on the back of the neck stand to attention. But this was merely an appetiser to the main course of the evening – Belshazzar’s Feast.

Walton’s oratorio, telling the story of the fall of Babylon and its ungodly king, is one of his most popular works but, with its cross-rhythms and unusual harmonies, is very difficult to perform well. This proved to be no problem for Murray’s performers who were equally at home with its reflective, unaccompanied sections and its fortissimo exclamations of delight. The high standard of the choir continues to attract excellent soloists and Matthew Brook was superb as the narrator. His vocal command was tremendous and he had a real sense of drama which brilliantly complemented the choir’s energy.

The final chorus summed up the whole evening: Make a joyful noise! This could not have been more appropriate as it was truly a joyful and uplifting concert.”

Keith Nixon