Ottery St Mary Choral Society heralds Easter
Ottery St Mary Choral Society held its Spring concert in the Parish Church on Saturday, 8th April with the main item on the programme being appropriate for Easter: Dvořák ‘s setting of the 13th century poem ‘Stabat Mater Dolorosa’, depicting the suffering of the Virgin Mary at the foot of Christ’s cross.
The concert began with Parry’s ‘Blest Pair of Sirens’. Less well known perhaps than others of Parry’s works, this setting of an ode by Milton makes a powerful presentation of music and verse together as heaven sent manifestations. The choir, under musical director Malcolm Matthews, made a suitably robust start with sopranos rising clearly and strongly to their high notes. Overall, choir and orchestra caught the sense of the music well, especially at the shift of tone and tempo in the middle section making a dramatic contrast with the outer parts. The final section was powerfully done, bringing a good solid climax at the end.
The choir was then joined by soloists Héloïse West (soprano), Louise Mott (mezzo), Leslie Baker (tenor) and Alex Poulton (Bass) for the main work Dvořák worked on this composition bearing his own grief at the separate losses of three of his children, so the degree of anguish and grief he expresses is probably understandable. That baleful sense was well presented by choir and orchestra from the beginning and reinforced by Baker and West. Their splendid contributions enriched the entire piece throughout.
All four soloists shone in “Quis est homo”, the second section where each makes a contribution. Throughout the work one had the sense of the soloists listening and responding to each other to great effect. Back with the choir “Eia Mater” was a delight as, following a short interval, was the gently lilting melody in “Tui Nati”.
Tenor and soprano shone again together in their duet at “Fac ut”, West particularly showing her clear, strong voice, always free of unnecessary vibrato, right through to “Quando corpus” and the Amens where she soared exuberantly over the strong climax of singers, choir and orchestra together to close a truly tremendous combined achievement.
The society is currently taking a break from rehearsals
until September when preparations will begin for:
Classics Galore November 18th
Christmas Concert December 16th
The Ottery St Mary Choral Society is an active community society, based in Ottery St. Mary in East Devon. Members come from many towns and villages in East Devon to meet every week between September and April. The society regularly produces two concerts a year in the magnificent parish church dedicated to St. Mary, from which the town gets its name. Other concerts take place in the Great Hall at Exeter University and there have also been performances in Exeter Cathedral.
The Spring Concert is usually a week before Easter and comprises a full-length choral work, such as a Handel oratorio, a well-known requiem or two shorter works such as Bach’s Magnificat and Mozart’s Grand Mass. The Christmas Concert will normally comprise a shorter choral work, a selection of unusual carols sung by the choir as well as some popular carols for the audience to join in. There is also a short orchestral work performed by the orchestra.
There has been a choral society in Ottery since the latter part of the 1800s and records exist showing that, in its present form, the society was founded in 1904. The centenary was celebrated with a special performance of Verdi’s Requiem in the splendid setting of Exeter Cathedral. There has been a concert tour to Ottery’s twin town in Germany, as well as participation in BBC’s Songs of Praise.
The Ottery Choral Society is also the main choir in the Classics Galore Concert series, held in the Great Hall in 2007, 2009,2011,2013 and 2015. These concerts have so far raised more than £67,500 for the Force Cancer Charity in Exeter. The next concert will be on November 18th, 2017. (classicsgalore.co.uk).
To find out more information about the Society please contact [email protected]
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