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Review of November Concert 2015

Posted on: 22/12/2015

<h3>Triumph for Dumfries Choral Society</h3><p>Review in Dumfries &amp; Galloway Standard, published Friday 18 December 2015 </p><p>A performance of Handel’s Messiah is frequently a first sign of the Christmas Season.  This well known Oratorio, first performed in Dublin in April 1754 was originally intended as a piece for Lent and indeed the whole of the second half relates to Christ’s suffering and eventual death and resurrection.  However the  familiar choruses especially “The Hallelujah” and  solos such as “I know that my Redeemer Liveth” have given the work universal popularity.  We have not heard it here in Dumfries in its entirety for some years and I believe that this increased the anticipation of the prospective audience and led to the almost more than capacity audience,  packed in to St John’s Church on Saturday evening.</p><p>Those present on this occasion were most certainly not disappointed, as the tumultuous applause at the end of the performance signified.  Orchestra, Choir, Soloists and Conductor all deserve high praise for their various contributions. </p><p>It was a  real pleasure to have the accompaniment of a small but competent group of players, ably led by Susan Smyth.  The ensemble  worked well together and minor flaws  were quickly forgotten They are especially to be praised as only a few play together regularly and this was their first meeting with Conductor and Choir.   While the trumpet playing was not perfect it is always an exhilarating sound!</p><p>The Choral Society appears to have recruited about twenty new members this season, many of them younger voices and their presence noticeably improved the general tone of the choir, in particular the tenor section is now on equal footing with the basses.  Very well disciplined and paying careful attention to the conductor, the singers performed splendidly.  The diction was good and the dynamics very effective.   Perhaps an occasional lapse in intonation could be observed and while on the whole the parts were well balanced,  just sometimes the sopranos dominated and individual voices could be heard.   Edward Taylor,  the Choir’s new, young conductor, however,  had very firm control and his musicality has made a strong impression already in this his first outing with the Society. </p><p>The four soloists, all sometime  graduates of the Royal Scottish Conservatoire,  performed with distinction.  The Contralto, Taylor Wilson,  sang with great feeling particularly in  “He was despised” and was a valuable member of the group.  Tenor, Ronan Busfield sang with the Choral Society a few years ago with distinction as the Evangelist in the St. John Passion and his “Comfort Ye my People” was delightful.  His voice however seemed to tire in his final aria.  He was probably suffering from the all prevalent cold!  It was a pleasure to welcome back a former Choral conductor in Nicola Junor.   Her voice was clear, pure and effortless and her breath control amazing.  Her singing of both her major arias, “ Rejoice Greatly” and “I know that My Redeemer Liveth” was a sheer delight.  To the same degree Andrew McTaggart delighted the audience with his dramatic, operatic performance making the audience take instant notice on his first appearance.  He has a voice of such power and yet capable of gentleness that he is bound to be in great demand.  His diction too was beyond praise making “The Trumpet Shall Sound” a final solo of great beauty.</p><p>Finally in charge of the whole performance was Musical Director, Edward Taylor.  Appointed to the Choral Society in August,  he showed that he has already made his mark for good on the singers.  Diction has improved, eye contact much  more apparent and small but noticeable changes in style observed.  All this added to the success of the performance but it was his complete mastery of choir, orchestra, soloists that made the evening such a resounding success.</p><p>We, therefore,  look forward with considerable expectation to the Christmas Concert in St John’s Church on 19<sup>th</sup> December and further ahead to the Easter concert on 18<sup>th</sup> March 2016, also in St John’s, where works by John Rutter,  Andrew Carter and George Shearing will be performed.</p><p>Once again congratulations to all concerned for a memorable evening made all the more poignant in contrast with the evil deeds being perpetrated round the world at this time in Mali, Syria and Paris.</p><div></div>



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