Ra­di­ant Dawn for cen­te­nary

The Galloway News - - CHORAL SOCIETY -

Kirkcud­bright Cho­ral So­ci­ety staged its Ra­di­ant Dawn con­cert this month.

With a back­drop of cas­cad­ing pop­pies cre­ated by pupils of Kirkcud­bright Pri­mary, the Cochran Hall was the set­ting for an evening of cho­ral mu­sic to mark 100 years since the end of the Great War.

In a well-at­tended event, the au­di­ence was treated to a heart­felt per­for­mance by the choir, which, although re­duced in num­ber, rose to the chal­lenge of a de­mand­ing cho­ral work.

Con­ducted by mu­si­cal di­rec­tor Michael Ap­ple­ford and ably ac­com­pa­nied by the Clas­si­cal Mu­si­cians En­sem­ble and the so­ci­ety’s su­perb pi­anist Su­san Smyth, the con­cert be­gan with Ralph Vaughan Wil­liams’ Dona No­bis Pacem, a work which grew out of his own in­volve­ment in the First World War but was writ­ten when a fur­ther war in Europe was loom­ing.

At times, the words and mu­sic made for un­com­fort­able lis­ten­ing as the hor­ror of war was strik­ingly ex­pressed, but un­der the tight con­trol of the ba­ton the choir and mu­si­cians ne­go­ti­ated the rhythm and key changes with as­sur­ance.

Un­usu­ally, the work be­gins with a so­prano solo, beau­ti­fully ex­e­cuted by Ni­cola Junor, ex­press­ing the de­sire for peace.

How­ever, the over­tures of war build through­out the short move­ment and the choir con­vinc­ingly un­leashed the fury of bat­tle in the dra­matic sec­ond move­ment.

The bari­tone soloist, Robert Lind, took up the theme of Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in the third move­ment with a con­trolled per­for­mance that per­fectly re­flected the fu­til­ity of war in the serene beauty of the mu­sic.

The ele­gia­cal fourth move­ment al­lowed the choir to be more ex­pan­sive be­fore mem­bers con­fi­dently tack­led the rhyth­mic build up to the height of bat­tle and in­evitable death.

How­ever, the com­pas­sion of a griev­ing world was well con­veyed in the clos­ing sec­tion.

The soloists and the choir came to­gether in the som­bre fifth with ex­cel­lent han­dling of rhythm and dy­nam­ics through­out.

In the last move­ment the basses con­fi­dently took up the theme of hope for the fu­ture and the choir com­pe­tently drove this mes­sage for­ward to its cli­max of Glory to God in the High­est, and on earth peace, good-will to­ward men, be­fore the so­prano soloist qui­etly re­it­er­ated her en­treaty for peace.

With the beau­ti­ful fi­nal note from Ni­cola dy­ing away, the au­di­ence was left to con­tem­plate the hope for fu­ture peace.

Mem­bers of the Clas­si­cal Mu­si­cians En­sem­ble re­turned to as­sist the choir in the sec­ond half, which opened with an un­ac­com­pa­nied piece by Scot­tish com­poser James Macmil­lan.

O Ra­di­ant Dawn, from which the con­cert took its ti­tle, is an up­lift­ing an­them, which was sung with pas­sion.

This was fol­lowed by a more con­tem­pla­tive piece, Tis Win­ter Now, based on a poem by Longfellow and ar­ranged spe­cially by mu­si­cal di­rec­tor Michael Ap­ple­ford.

Its at­mo­spheric evo­ca­tion of cold win­ter days was beau­ti­fully con­veyed.

The choir has reg­u­larly per­formed works by Nor­we­gian com­poser Ola Gjeilo and Ecce Novum again de­lighted with its gen­tle, har­mo­nious sound re­flect­ing the won­der of the vir­gin birth.

Will Todd is a con­tem­po­rary English com­poser and his haunt­ing No More Sor­row is a re­flec­tive piece, which was sung with great sen­si­tiv­ity, en­hanced by the har­monic skill of the strings, pi­ano and key­board, the lat­ter played by choir mem­ber Christina Mont­gomery.

The con­cert con­cluded with a spir­ited Glo­ria in Ex­cel­sis by Amer­i­can com­poser Dan For­rest, in which the choir ably trans­mit­ted its de­light and en­thu­si­asm through the up­beat set­ting of the tra­di­tional text and sent the ap­pre­cia­tive au­di­ence home with a sense of joy­ful­ness for the fes­tive sea­son as well as hav­ing paid tribute to those who fell in the Great War. Con­tributed

Act of re­mem­brance The funeral of the un­known war­rior at West­min­ster Abbey

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