Wigton Choral Society’s Christmas Concert was given to a very appreciative audience, which was perhaps a little smaller than usual because of the atrocious weather. The concert featured a little known Christmas Oratorio by Camille Saint-Saens followed by carols from King’s College, Cambridge.
The concert opened with the Saint-Saens.This was scored for five soloists, chorus, strings, harp and organ. Unfortunately, the organist was unable to attend because of the aforementioned weather so, at the eleventh hour, Amanda Wright stepped in to play the organ part on the piano. The piece is warmly Romantic with both harmonic and contrapuntal richness and variety.
In the Prelude the piano blended well with the strings (played by an ensemble from the RNCM) and ended on a a beautifully haunting note. This was followed by a series of typically French lyrical movements, increasing in texture from solos to a quintet, with choral interventions.
The soloist - Fiona Weakly ( soprano), Cari Searle (mezzo-soprano), Anne-Marie Kerr (alto), David Douglas (tenor) and Paul im Thurn (baritone) - were superb. The harpist, Mary Dunsford, accompanied several movements including the Trio, where she played light arpeggios which contrasted beautifully with the smooth, clear voices of the soloists.
Throughout the Oratorio the balance and clarity of sound achieved by the choir was highly commendable, although on one or two occasions the sopranos were slightly hesitant. The piece demonstrated the considerable capabilities of the choir members and the soloists, all of whom were able to express different emotions through the various movements.
After the interval we were treated to a series of carols from King’s College, Cambridge, most of which had unusual but very interesting and harmonious arrangements. The carols were very varied, from well-known and well-loved ones to less well-known ones. Some were from the fifteenth century and another, No Small Wonder, was performed at King’s College for the first time in 2000. The audience were invited to join in two carols, which they did with gusto and obvioous enjoyment.
The conductor, Ian Wright, as always, interacted very well with the audience and created a varied programme and a very professional performance by his now extremely accomplished and confident choir. The concert was much enjoyed by the audience, and was a lovely beginning to the festive period.
Janice Havelock December 2018