For their 2013 spring concert, the Mayfield Festival Choir performed a selection of works entitled ‘Between Earth and Heaven’.
It was an evening dedicated to the memory of Michael Gough Matthews who died last month. Michael, a former director of the Royal College of Music, had been a Mayfield resident for a number of years and Artistic Director of the Mayfield Festival.
The choir started with Angelus ad Virginem, a popular medieval carol, with a catchy melody and strong rhythm – ideal for the choir’s innovative procession from opposite sides of the church to their seats.
This was followed by Gloria ad Modum Tubae by Guillaume Dufay, which provided a rousing fanfare and gave the choir the opportunity to express the exuberance intended by the composer, which they did with obvious enjoyment.
Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus demonstrated some beautifully quiet, sustained singing. The first half concluded with A Ceremony of Carols by Benjamin Britten, bringing together soprano and baritone soloists, a husband and wife duo, Miranda and Martin Johnson and a harp solo by Heather Wrighton.
The second part of the concert was the Fauré Requiem which used the work’s original instrumentation, sensitively played by the Royal Academy Consort.
The baritone and soprano soloists were polished and effective in their contributions, especially the soprano who delivered an exquisite Pie Jesu, ably supported by Andrew Benians on the organ.
The evening was brought to a moving conclusion by the choir, the sopranos being particularly effective in the final movement, In Paradisum.
This is a choir rejuvenated – they have demonstrated a belief in their recent performances which is a credit to Jeremy Summerly, conductor and Festival director, whose influence is evident in the quality of the choral singing – the clarity of diction, and variety of dynamics ranging from a delicate simmering pianissimo to a full blown rousing fortissimo.
On the strength of this concert we look forward to their November performance of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.
The concert was recorded and the CD will be available through the choir’s website www.mayfieldfestivalchoir.org. By James Anderson