It’s been an incredible week for Gloucester Choral Society, one which has seen many of its members taking part in the UK’s most prestigious classical music festivals.
The week was heralded the previous Friday (15 July) with our very own Maestro, Adrian Partington, guiding the choir with his habitual excellence as chorusmaster at BBC’s First Night of the Proms. Also at the Proms, many members of GCS joined forces with the National Chorus of Wales to perform Tippett’s Child of Our Time to very great acclaim. The Telegraph said:
The other heroes of the hour were the BBC National Chorus of Wales. They negotiated the tricky counterpoint of the Chorus of the Self-Righteous with superb assurance, and flung out the Spirituals with moving, full-throated abandon
The other feature of the week’s musical activities was the not-so-small matter of the Three Choirs Festival which this year returned to Gloucester Cathedral with Adrian Partington at the helm as Artistic Director.
With a significant number of GCS singers lending their vocal talents as part of the festival chorus. This was a world-class week of fabulous concert after fabulous concert in a hugely varied programme which included Elgar’s The Kingdom, Mendelssohn’s Elijah with Sir Willard White, Grande Messe de Mort by Berlioz, Orff’s Carmina Burana and the titanic Symphony of a Thousand by Mahler; all receiving fantastic press reviews and we include a small selection here:
Elijah is rich in memorable material for the choir and this Chorus really delivered the goods. They made a fine job of the Baal choruses, vainly imploring the pagan God to put Elijah in his place. The last chorus of Part I was suitably joyful as the People gave thanks for the end of the drought and in Part II, at Jezebel’s prompting, the chorus really turned on Elijah, punching out ‘Woe to him’ thrillingly. But, exciting though these passages were, I was just impressed by the sensitivity with which the choir delivered the less dramatic passages such as the chorus ‘He, watching over Israel’. And a chorus like ‘Behold, God the Lord passed by’ with its contrasts demonstrated the fine attention to dynamics that marked the work of the Festival Chorus all evening. After a performance lasting well over two hours plus interval they gathered themselves once more and gave a spirited, strong rendition of the concluding chorus, the final ‘Amen’ blazing.
This was nothing less than a landmark performance of a landmark work.
In the end, I enjoyed Carmina Burana much more than I expected. That’s not because I experienced a Damascene conversion to the work; the enjoyment came from the vitality of the performance itself. My seat for this concert was quite a bit further back than had been the case at other concerts earlier in the week but the sound of the Festival Chorus reached the back of the cathedral clearly and with no little power. It was also obvious that attention to detail was inherent in everything they sang. The playing of the Philharmonia was superb throughout the evening. Adrian Partington controlled proceedings expertly from start to finish.
The Three Choirs Festival even saw our singers performing to royalty with HRH The Prince of Wales attending the performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester attending Friday evening’s Enigma Variations & Carmina Burana.
An unforgettable week!