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Concer Reviews sent in by various contributors. Ask to have yours included, either original copy or from newspapers.

Incitement to free-love in Dorking on 4th July 2009

How much passion and theatre can a choir put into singing 'Kyrie, Kyrie'? Not a lot. So it must have been refreshing for the Dorking Choral Society under their conductor Justin Doyle, to sing the rumbustuous Carl Orff Carmina Burana. Being described as full of of sex, lust, bachanalian orgies, gambling, loucheness and even more sexcess, makes arresting "Red Top" copy. Okay. Fine but read the Guide Book before you embark on the Carmina journey. The soloists - Bibi Heal, (soprano), Kevin Kyle (tenor), Grant Doyle (baritone) - made the work into real theatre. They introduced just the right amount of pathos into their singing without the audiences thinking their voices had crashed. These professional musicians are used to singing such lyrics such as "Beautiful is your face, the gleam of your eye, your braided hair. What a glorious creature." Puccini? No. Carmina Burana! Certainly, some of it is 'in yer face' but words like these can only be sung with tenderness.

Justin took good care that the concert was a good expeience for the young singers from St. Joseph's School and Powell Corderoy School. This was probably their first time in front of footlights and I hope that in years to come they will say, "I remember singing Carmina with Bibi".

If it is true that percussionists fill in their silent bars by reading a paperback, there is no such opportunity in Carmina. The two-piano version (which I prefer to the orchestral scoring), was so wonderfully played by Peter Jaekel and Gavin Roberts. Being a percussion instrument the pianos complemented the brilliant work put in by Simon Whittaker, Jonathan Grogan and Joe Austin. Two piano pieces by Percy Grainger completed a well balanced programme.

Was that all? Well, no. Dorking Choral Society showed that they could swing it as well. Forget renditions of Folk Songs you've heard before. Open you minds and ears to the Bob Chilcott versions and you'll see why Justin also conducts with his left foot! Something I'd like to hear more of is the African songs. Sure they haven't had a Bach, Beethoven or Brahms but Africa has a whole music culture out there. You don't need to learn Swahili; music transcends spoken language.

'They' tell you all sorts of things about the Dorking Halls; bad acoustic, soaks up the sound, air-con never working. On the night, only the heat got in the way. Dorking Choral Society had enormous energy for the loud bits, sensitivity for the soft passages and a smile for their conductor. So they should. Justin Doyle will be conducting his last concert with them in November. Rupert Street.

Review By James Anderson

Mayfield Festival Choir/London Primavera.
St. Dunstan’s, Mayfield. Sunday 1st November 2009

Music in Mayfield

There was a buzz of anticipation last night as a full gathering at St Dunstan’s Church in Mayfield sat down to listen to a concert given by Mayfield Festival Choir to celebrate a variety of anniversaries for Purcell, Handel, Haydn, Mendelssohn and the contemporary composer Jonathan Dove. The choir was accompanied by the London Primavera, leader Paul Manley and conducted by Graham Caldbeck.

The performance opened with Purcell’s ‘O sing unto the Lord a new song’ in which the bass Marcus Farnsworth, hot from winning the 2009 Wigmore Hall International song prize, excelled in the dramatic solos - a name to look out for.

‘Bless the Lord O my soul’ by Jonathan Dove was delivered with dramatic intensity and produced amazing volumes of rich sound and colour effects, highlighting resident organist Andrew Benians magnificently executed organ solos.

The London Primavera did full justice to Mendelssohn’s String Symphony No 10 in B minor and demonstrated ensemble playing of a high calibre.

Mendelssohn’s ‘Hear my prayer’ brought together the soprano soloist and choir in a moving rendition of the famous song ‘O for the Wings of a Dove’ and the first half of the evening ended with ‘Let thy hand be strengthened’, the first of Handel’s 4 coronation anthems.

After the interval we heard the major work of the evening - Haydn’s Maria Theresa Mass written for solo, vocal quartet, chorus and orchestra. This work calls on orchestra and choir to demonstrate a full range of orchestral dexterity and vocal energy. All sections of the choir responded to Graham’s inspired direction and the tenor section, although small in number, were nevertheless able to show a strong, clear tenor line.

Mayfield were fortunate to have a team of four distinguished young soloists who excelled themselves in fluency of vocal efforts.

This was a splendid evening of music, with a revitalised choir - a standard of performance that bodes well for forthcoming performances and the 2010 Mayfield Festival. James Anderson.                 

“The Choral Society”, Prue Leith’s new book

Three women in their fifties - one widowed, one divorced and one never married - meet when they join a choir. Lucy, a food journalist, is obeying her bossy daughter who prescribes singing to assuage her grief. Joanna, the successful businesswoman for whom failure is not an option, is tackling her inability to sing a note. And much-divorced Rebecca is unashamedly looking for another mate.

When they decide to combine their talents to restore a run down hotel on the Cornish coast and turn it into a spa offering holiday courses, conflict is bound to result.

Lucy, Joanna and Rebecca are a sympathetic and engaging trio, very different women, each with private demons to confront. We feel for them as they cope, or fail to cope, with the pain of the past and fear for the future. Prue Leith makes their intertwined journeys riveting and ultimately satisfying, even uplifting.

The choir teaches them a good deal more than how to sing …