University of Surrey Chamber Choir and Orchestra
Conductor: Russell Keable
Music by Handel, Tippett and Haydn
Coronation Anthem "Zadok the Priest"
Five Negro Spirituals
Once again, it was the turn of University of Surrey`s Chamber Choir and Orchestra under the direction of the esteemed Russell Keable, to visit us on Sunday 5th March. Always an enjoyable occasion where the acoustics of the sanctuary are heard at their best, Haydn`s great Nelson Mass taking up the second half, was surely to be a fine test of their worth.
However, before this forty minute tour de force, the concert began with Handel`s four part Coronation Overture "Zadoc the Priest." First performed at the coronation of George II in 1727, it has been heard at "every such occasion since". Starting quietly and under the baton of a student having her final conducting assessment, the sudden huge entry of the second section with full choir and orchestra made a tremendous impression, an effect which lasted throughout the final "God save the King" and which hopefully ensured that the student got high marks!
Five unaccompanied negro spirituals from Michael Tippet`s "A Child of our Time" followed. Charged with the necessary emotion and possessing a splendid bass voice among the seventeen strong choir, this passionate music, heralded the twenty minute interval.
Taking up all of the second half, this next work by Haydn written in 1798 and regarded by some as his finest, was originally entitled "A Mass for Troubled Times". However, because its arrival coincided with the nation`s adoration of Nelson as a national hero, especially for his trouncing of Napoleon at the Battle of the Nile, this masterpiece gradually acquired the title of the "Nelson Mass".
This six part Mass under the skillful hands of Russell Keable was certainly a challenge for student singers and instrumentalists to prepare and perform in addition to their academic studies. Nevertheless they certainly produced a very fine result with many outstanding voices especially sopranos and basses. Some people in the audience thought that perhaps the orchestra could have had a little more polish in places but overall we were given a most satisfying musical experience by young people, some of whom will doubtless make their mark in the profession. Altogether this Sunday afternoon occasioned another fine concert produced by Surrey`s prestigious University for the appreciation of some eighty people.