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Spring Concert 2004



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A Review of our Concert on 15th May 2004
Contributed by Bruce Upton

“Beaminster church was filled for last Saturday’s Spring Concert by the Beaminster Singers. Hilary Kenway made her debut as their new conductor in a programme of choral favourites. The Beaminster Singers is a choir on the way up. The members presented well with their uniform folders of music and the women’s coloured scarves; they watched the conductor, and they sang with a smile. The sopranos were true on their highest notes, and the tenors strong without being strident. Perhaps the choir needed a few more basses to give a firmer foundation; some of the bass leads sounded woolly in what was otherwise a disciplined, tuneful performance.

Hilary Kenway proved an energetic and sympathetic conductor, and Vivaldi’s Gloria was an ideal piece to start the evening – lively and straightforward. The dynamic range might have been greater, especially in the very soft passages, but the overall performance was confident and assured. Stephanie Bodsworth was excellent as soprano soloist, and Geraldine Baker matched her in tuning, if not in power, in the Laudamus Te. Susan Lofthouse, James Craw and Ashley Thorburn all gave creditable performances as the other soloists.

The Beaminster Camerata, under the leadership of Ron Easey, provided sterling support, as did Antony Saunders on organ. What a pity this portable chamber organ wasn’t powerful enough to use in the subsequent programme! Stainer’s “Fling Wide the Gates”, a work of great contrasts in volume and tempo, was tackled bravely, but there were difficulties in keeping choir and organ in time. By contrast, “God So Loved the World” was sung unaccompanied and was very well done – expressive and atmospheric.

Stanford’s Te Deum was a harder nut to crack, and the Singers did it impressively, with just a few less confident entries in the difficult modulating section near the end where the choir had minimal instrumental support.

Fauré’s “Requiem”, which occupied the second half of the concert, suffered problems both in tuning and in timing because it made use of both organ and the Camerata. It really is a shame that the siting of the organ console in St Mary’s church is so unsympathetic to performances conducted in the nave. However, the choir sang excellently – expressive, thoughtful musicianship. Hilary’s conducting was impressive. The Beaminster Singers provided an enjoyable concert to a high standard. Congratulations to all of them.”