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Sunday 10 Mar 2019

3:00 pm • Retiring Collection

University of Surrey Chamber Choir and Orchestra

Conductor: Russell Keable

A mixture of vocal and instrumental performances followed by Handel's Dixit Dominus

Choir with Russel Keable conducting
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A mixture of vocal and instrumental performances

— Interval —

George Frideric Handel

Dixit Dominus


The second of University of Surrey`s visits this season took place on Sunday afternoon 10th March, when their orchestra and choir gave a recital of music from various composers including the very demanding religious work " Dixit Dominus" based on Psalm 109 by Handel.

However, before this extensive masterpiece, occupying the entire second half, there was a selection of far shorter items for smaller ensembles. Part of J.S. Bach`s Cantata "Gott versorget alles Leben" with soprano, violin and piano, suffered a little from opening nerves with initial lapses in violin intonation before they got into their stride, but the soprano displayed a strong clear voice and later on featured in the Handel.

Percy Grainger`s "Molly on the Shore" written in 1907 was a delightful contrast,and received well deserved appreciation from the seventy strong audience for the exuberant rendition given by a very capable string quartet, who showed excellent tonal control and pizzicato subtleties. Piazzolla`s "The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires" played by a piano trio, also showed good attack from all three players, with firm and pleasing tone from the strings and the pianist, who had previously played in the first item.

Finally, before the interval, the same Barber Shop Quartet performed the pieces that we had heard in their previous visit but in the reverse order -- "Bananaphone " and "All Star". However, the effect on the audience was identical ----- tremendous applause, and rightly so as they are very polished and well deserve the acclaim.

Invariably, visits from the University`s Choir fills the Sanctuary with a joyful sound, and this time was no exception. The eight part religious work of Handel, was well balanced, and with strong soloists together with a potential MMus, Sarah Denton, at the helm, was notable for its strong rhythmic drive and precision. Usually conducted by Russell Keable, this young lady "wielding the baton", certainly proved a worthy alternative to the maestro, and kept an admirably tight grip on proceedings.Throughout this ambitious challenge for both choir and orchestra, a first class base player and chamber organist provided steady and faultless accompaniment to the remaining ensemble, and helped in no small way to make this another excellent concert given by our friends from the University.



Russell Keable

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.