Louth Choral Society

Established before 1836

"... exciting and innovative ..."

Winter Words

Louth Choral Society continued its innovative year of concerts with a programme titled ‘Winter Words’ on Sunday 24th November in St James’s Church, Louth marking anniversaries on the previous Friday of 50 years since the Assassination of President F Kennedy and 100 years since the birth of Benjamin Britten.

The concert started with the Herbert Howells unaccompanied choral piece ‘Take him, earth for cherishing’ commissioned for and first performed exactly one year after Kennedy’s assassination. This challenging work with its complex rhythmic harmonies and interlocking themes ending in 8 parts, was beautifully interpreted by the choir with all sections in fine form.

Tenor, Mark Wilde, ended the first half with a masterful performance of Britten’s song cycle ‘Winter Words’, which uses the texts of 8 Thomas Hardy’s poems. Together with accompanist Steven Billinger, the audience was treated to clearly articulated and effortlessly poised singing and enhanced by sensitive and characterised accompaniment which included representations of trains and birds. During the story telling in ‘The Choirmaster’s Burial’ a pin could have been heard to drop.

Benjamin Britten’s Cantata ‘Saint Nicolas’ formed the second half of the evening featuring in addition to the choir and Mark Wilde, members of the Lincolnshire Chamber Orchestra, Steven Billinger and David Parker piano duet, Anthony Pinel organ, a ‘Gallery Choir’ comprising sopranos and altos from Huddersfield University Music Department and three young trebles, Owen du Bedat, Roy Hilson and Keiran Seymour.

The story of Saint Nicholas’s life was effectively portrayed and I enjoyed the haunting violin solo at the start, the transformation from the boy to the adult singing the words ‘God be Glorified’, the pure tone of Huddersfield students literally singing from a galleried stage position above the choir, the entry of the three young trebles as the ‘pickled boys’ and above all the excellent solos, accompaniment and choral singing throughout.

The 2013 Louth Choral Society season has been exciting and innovative and is shortly to end with the traditional ‘Sing Noël’ concert on Saturday 21st December again in St James’s Church, Louth. They are to be congratulated on bringing such a varied programme ranging from the popular repertoire to new works in Patrick Hawes’s ‘Song of Songs’ and the rarely performed Winter Words concert programme which stretches choirs by taking them into less familiar music genre. I look forward to the 2014 season starting with Handel’s ‘Judas Maccabeus’ on Sunday April 13th.

John Smith, 24 November 2013