University of Surrey Chamber Choir and Orchestra
Venice to Guildford:
Music of the late Renaissance and Baroque periods including settings of the Beatus Vir by Monteverdi and Vivaldi and works by Gabrieli and Gesualdo. The programme will also include recently composed pieces by students at the University.
Our annual choral treat took place at 3 pm on Sunday afternoon 6 March when the University of Surrey Chamber Choir under the hands of maestro Russell Keable gave a concert entitled "Venice To Guildford".
A very well balanced choir of nineteen students, supported most effectively by a chamber organ, started with three pieces from the sixteenth century. Usually based on the Psalms and performed at religious festivals, the last of these polyphonic masterpieces by Italian composers, was "Cantate Domino" by the great Claudio Monteverdi.
A four movement "Sonata da camera" for two violins cello and continuo made a nice contrast before three more madrigals from Middle Ages Venice followed, the last of which ,"Fire fire!" by Thomas Morley, being roundly applauded.
Leading up to the interval was another interesting and unusual work, again written in the 16/17th. century, but by an English composer, Thomas Weelkes. "Thule, the period of cosmography" depicted in song the sulphurous and volcanic landscape of Thule which was the ancient name for Iceland or the nether regions of the far North. Bringing this to life was no mean feat for the choir but with Russell Keable at the helm they were well up to the task.
Bringing us nearer to home, an opportunity was taken to air four of the best carols written by students for the annual competition for works of this genre. Entitled "One fine day", "Carol of the bells", "Bring him home" and "In the night", they were all extremely imaginative and well conceived with harmonic subtleties that were most pleasing.
Returning to Monteverdi, the choir was joined by the chamber group with an excellent rendering of his "Beatus vir". Written about 1630, this sacred music based on Psalm 112 is a fine example of the work of one of the greatest musicians of the Baroque era. With typical treatment of choral works of this period, some of the singers were split from the main body of the choir to provide contrast and comparison, all the while to the accompaniment of the strings and continuo, resulting in the most satisfying of sounds.
So concluded another great concert showing the capabilities of the young music students from Surrey University, and for an occasion which was all the better for being attended by well over seventy people on a sunny Sunday afternoon.