University of Surrey Chamber Choir
Conductor: Russell Keable
Sacred & Profane:
A concert featuring Vaughan Williams' unaccompanied Mass together with sacred and secular choral music from Britain and France.
One of our concerts most enjoyed is the yearly visit by the University of Surrey`s Chamber Choir, and their concert on Sunday afternoon 15th March fully lived up to expectations.
Again with the renowned Russell Keable at the helm we were able to appreciate the excellent acoustics of the sanctuary and revel in the delights of their programme.
Pride of place in the first half was given to two French composers; Camille Saint-Saens and Claude Debussy whose chosen works were "Two choruses" and "Three songs" respectively.These were beautifully sung with a delightful blending of harmonies and clear enunciation from the twenty three strong choir.
Also included in this part of the programme, because of their undoubted worth, were four Carols written by students as part of their studies and these were rewarded with much applause.
Unusually, interspersed between these choral items, we enjoyed a highly gifted French guitarist playing music by Scarlatti, Rodrigo,and two lesser known writers Augustin Mangore and Stephen Dodgson. His playing was outstanding in its tonal range and smoothness and showed masterly control over what is a very difficult instrument.
After the interval the second half was devoted to one work; Vaughan-Williams`Mass written in 1921 when the composer was 49. This was a very accomplished performance throughout the five sections with opportunities for the soloists to show their considerable worth, together with effective piano accompaniment from the highly versatile university stalwart Maureen Galea. It is sad and ironic that a writer of such moving sacred music and the son of a vicar should in later life have lost his faith, probably as a result of the second world war.
Deservedly, these fine young people and their conductor received prolonged applause at the conclusion of another Sunday afternoon of inspiring music of the highest standard.
Russell Keable has established a reputation as one of Britain’s most exciting and versatile musicians. ‘Keable and his orchestra did magnificently’ wrote The Guardian, ‘one of the most memorable evenings at the South Bank' said The Musical Times. He performs with orchestras and choirs throughout the British Isles including the London Mozart Players, Manchester Camerata, Northern Ballet Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, Viva and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He is a regular guest conductor for the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra, has conducted in Prague and Paris (concerts filmed by French and British television) and recently made a highly-praised début with the George Enescu Philharmonic in Bucharest. His regular performing partners include many leading national and international soloists (including Steven Isserlis, Tasmin Little, Nikolai Demidenko, John Lill and Nicholas Daniel).
Keable, a graduate of Nottingham University, studied conducting with George Hurst and Norman Del Mar at London's Royal College of Music, and violin with Maria Lidka. His academic interests have led him to seek out much rare repertoire. He revived Dvorak's opera Dimitrij for a British stage première in Nottingham and a London première concert performance. Research in Los Angeles led to a reconstruction of music from Erich Wolfgang Korngold's film score for The Sea Hawk. Other revivals have included the British première of Korngold's celebrated opera Die tote Stadt, Nadia Boulanger's Faust et Hélène, Copland's ballet Grohg, and less-well-known works by many British composers.
He broadcasts regularly on Radio 3 and was invited by the BBC to conduct the world première of Errollyn Wallen's Spirit Symphony in the final concert of the 2005 Listen Up Festival (broadcast live from the Royal Festival Hall); a performance that was awarded the Radio 3 Listeners' Award as part of the 2005 British Composer Awards.
For 26 years he has been associated with Kensington Symphony Orchestra, one of the UK’s finest non-professional orchestras, with whom he has led first performances of works by many British composers (including Maxwell Davies, Knussen, Woolrich, Holloway, Colin and David Matthews, Joby Talbot and John McCabe). His British première of Aulis Sallinen's Symphony no.8 was praised by The Sunday Times as a 'finely-judged performance'.
Russell is also in demand as a composer, arranger and teacher. He has written works for many British ensembles and has had premières throughout the UK (including at the Edinburgh, Norwich, Aberystwyth and Newbury Spring Festivals). His opera Burning waters, commissioned by the Buxton Festival as part of their millenium celebration, was premièred in July 2000. In 2005 he was appointed Director of Conducting for the University of Surrey in Guildford.