HAVING been to every Battle Choral Society’s concert since 2002, I can only say that they get better and better.
On Saturday May 17 they gave another superb performance in the magnificent setting of Christ Church St Leonards, under the ever-encouraging leadership of their conductor John Langridge and ably supported by a first rate orchestra.
The music was chosen to commemorate the start of the Great War and the deeply moving opening piece was Elgar’s ‘For the Fallen’ with words by Laurence Binyon.
The familiar words ‘They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old’, set to Elgar’s delicate harmonies struck an immediate indication of the musical joys to come.
It is more difficult for a choir to sing quietly than loudly, and Battle Choral achieved this with ease.
Choir and orchestra caught the atmosphere perfectly, and the interplay between soprano soloist Jessica Leschnikoff and the choir was exquisite.
This was followed by ‘The Banks of Green Willow’ by George Butterworth.
Bearing in mind that Butterworth was killed in action on the Somme in 1916 aged 31, this was poignant and beautifully performed by the orchestra.
These two pieces set the scene for the second half of the concert.
Brahm’s ‘German Requiem; is a wonderful and dramatic work and difficult to sing with its sustained high notes for all sections of the choir.
They passed this test with confidence.
The opening movement was breathtaking, all four parts of the choir sang ‘as one’ and the audience seemed overwhelmed by the solemnity of the music.
The tenors and basses shone throughout.
It is good when a 90 strong choir is supported so ably by the men’s sections.
At this point the choir was joined by the baritone soloist Terence Ayebare, whose voice elegantly complemented the choir in Herr, lehre doch mich.
Fugues always test choirs – speed, pronunciation, dynamics – combined with high notes for the sopranos, and needed concentration and focus on the conductor, and John Langridge held it all together to such an extent, that magnificent sound filled the church and thrilled the audience.
It was a wonderful, solemn and thought provoking evening, greatly appreciated by a packed church.
The audience showed this by thunderous applause, and even some whistling for more at the end.