Con­cert cel­e­brates 150 years of mu­sic

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - OPINION -

THE 150th an­niver­sary of a choir is cer­tainly some­thing to cel­e­brate.

Ash­ford Choral So­ci­ety was fully jus­ti­fied in stag­ing an an­niver­sary con­cert to com­mem­o­rate the land­mark in Can­ter­bury Cathe­dral on Satur­day evening, led by 150 singers and with vi­o­lin­ist Mar­got Rus­ma­nis lead­ing the orches­tra.

The venue was se­lected as there is nowhere in Ash­ford suit­able to ac­com­mo­date an as­sem­bly of such large num­bers.

In­cluded were sev­eral key mu­si­cians from ma­jor Lon­don orches­tras num­ber­ing about 70.

Con­duc­tor since 1970, Dr Mark Deller di­rected the per­for­mance with praise­wor­thy con­trol, not an easy task with the acous­ti­cally way­ward space of the cathe­dral.

Par­tic­u­larly apt for the oc­ca­sion were two works by El­gar, born in 1857, the same year as the choir.

The Spirit Of Eng­land is a set­ting of Lau­rence Binyon’s mov­ing First World War po­ems, en­cap­su­lat­ing El­gar’s re­sponse to the hor­ror and car­nage of the time.

In con­trast, the sec­ond work was the well-known or­ches­tral serenade for strings in E mi­nor, Op 20.

Vaughan Wil­liams’s vi­sion­ary short work for choir and orches­tra, To­ward The Un­known Re­gion, is a set- ting of Walt Whit­man, first per­formed by Ash­ford’s choir in 1987.

The ma­jor work and cli­max of the var­ied con­cert was a per­for­mance of William Wal­ton’s stir­ring or­a­to­rio, Bels­haz­zar’s Feast.

Dis­tin­guished solo singers who added lus­tre to the pro­ceed­ings were bari­tone Ben­jamin Be­van (Bels­haz­zar’s Feast) and in­ter­na­tion­ally known so­prano Lynne Daw­son (The Spirit Of Eng­land).

All in­volved were ac­claimed en­thu­si­as­ti­cally by the large au­di­ence, for a fit­ting per­for­mance for a very spe­cial cel­e­bra­tion.

A fea­ture on the choral so­ci­ety’s his­tory will ap­pear in next week’s Ken­tish Ex­press.

Mark Deller

Ben­jamin Be­van

Lynne Daw­son

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