REVIEW – Jubilee concert, Bishopwearmouth Choral Society

Musical director Bishopwearmouth Choral Society David Murray conductiing during a rehearsal at Sundeland Minster.
Musical director Bishopwearmouth Choral Society David Murray conductiing during a rehearsal at Sundeland Minster.
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ON the day the Olympic torch came to Sunderland, the Bishopwearmouth Choral Society gave a gold medal performance in their Jubilee concert.

Conductor David Murray chose a programme which was as celebratory as the occasion demanded.

His choir (and the audience) got the concert off to a rousing start with two verses from the National Anthem. For true pomp and circumstance, forget Elgar – it’s Bach and Handel every time.

Bach’s Ein Feste Burg Cantata, based on Luther’s famous chorale, needs a performance of power and majesty.

This proved to be no problem for Murray’s performers and the moving final chorale was beautifully judged both for pace and feeling.

Handel wrote his four anthems for the coronation of George II in 1727 and they were the perfect choice.

The choir excelled in the moving Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened and the joy of singing Zadok the Priest was clear for all to see and hear.

However, David kept his best hand for the second half – an outstanding performance of Bach’s Magnificat.

This is Bach at his grandest, a piece of sheer splendour and jubilation. The choir was terrific throughout, not only in the opening chorus but especially in the very fast Fecit Potentiam and the final Gloria.

The soloists (Jessica Holmes, Ben Williamson, Joseph Cornwell and Adrian Powter) were excellent.

They responded to the sensitivity of the text in all three pieces with controlled passion and fervour. The orchestra played with great feeling: delicate woodwind accompanying the arias and ceremonial trumpets gloriously raising the roof.