A feast of heavenly music
The Palmerston North Choral Society presented their final concert for 2018 last Saturday night at St Peter’s Church.
As well as the large choir, the concert included a number of soloists both instrumental and vocal.
The concert opened with a harp solo from Helen Webby (pictured). Helen performed a sonata by Welsh composer John Parry, its three movements showing off different moods with much expression.
The majority of the first half was taken up by the Choral Society’s performance of A Ceremony of Carols. This setting of the Christmas story was composed by Benjamin Britten, with some of its 11 movements sung in Latin and some in Middle English. The choir appeared somewhat tentative, with some of the more adventurous harmonies not always secure. However, the choir combined well with soprano soloist Rebecca Woodmore in the lullaby Balulalow. Helen Webby returned to accompany the choir on the harp, and closed out the first half with another solo.
The choir performed another extended work in the second half — Karl Jenkins’ Stella Natalis. It was immediately clear the choir was more confident here, with a powerful reading of the opening movement Celebro. The composer gave the audience a sly wink in the third movement, with a song about a triangle being performed in 5/4 time. The choir particularly enjoyed the fifth movement, Wintertide, with its shivering portrayal of a very cold day indeed.
The ever-reliable Jonathan Berkahn was at the organ for the second half, and trumpeter Clyde Dixon also featured prominently. Clyde looked to be a little nervous during the first few movements, but there were some powerful displays of his obvious technical and expressive skill towards the end of the half.
This was a brave programme, but the choir pulled it off and the large audience was warmly appreciative.