Songs of Love - June 2019 concert review

Submitted by huw on Tue, 05/09/2023 - 08:59
RCS in performance June 2019

Royston Choral Society ‘Songs of Love’ at Barkway Parish Church 29th June 2019

On the hottest day of the year so far, a large and appreciative audience gathered in the coolness of Barkway Church for Royston Choral Society’s summer concert.

The theme of the concert was ‘Love’. This was the thread woven through the musical programme but it was also an evening that celebrated a love of singing by performers and audience alike. Pianists Simon Bland and Warwick Hewson opened the evening with a compelling performance of Schubert’s Fantasia in F minor for piano duet. The performance was a journey of emotions, beautifully played showing the contrasts in the dramatic and more intimate moments. The Laurdisen Nocturnes were sung with moments of quiet reverence and some well-balanced choral harmonies. Under Andrew O’Brien's direction the choir explored an exciting range of dynamics and gave a particularly emotional rendition of ‘Sure on this shining night’.

We were then introduced to Alexander L’Estrange’s setting of songs ‘Love’s philosophy’. In these three songs we enjoyed beautiful lilting melodies and a charming performance. The blend of voices in this was excellent. Simon Bland’s sensitive accompaniment supported the choir very well.

The second half of the concert opened with Brahms’ Liebeslieder Walzer. The work is accompanied by piano duet and Simon and Warwick joined the choir to perform these. We were transformed to the Viennese ballroom for these varied songs, sung in German. The solos by Ann Hoptroff and Andrew O’Brien were a particular delight.

The conclusion of the programme was a first performance of a setting of the Welsh Lullaby Suo Gân. This was arranged by Richard Prince, a former director of RCS and now a member of the bass section. This beautiful and moving arrangement captivated the audience and included solos sensitively sung by Ann Hoptroff and Olivia Tomkins. You can view a recording of this made during the concert by Sue Sanders here. There are other photos from the concert here.

How lovely to enjoy this conclusion to the RCS 2018/19 season. Congratulations to the choir, the pianists and to Andrew O’Brien who continues to inspire the choir. The programme for 2019/20 looks challenging and exciting as this choir develops and explores more of the choral greats!

Michael Smith