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2009 Spring Concert



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They look great and they sound even better. The new temporary staging (a wonder of Somersetshire technology) gave Saturday night’s capacity audience in St Mary’s church Beaminster a perfect view of the Beaminster Singers, pastel scarves, alarming bow ties and all. More importantly, it provided improved audibility, balance and detail to enable us to appreciate this fine choir like never before.

An excellent quartet of young soloists showed no signs of their gruelling six and a half hour journey from London.  By turns passionate, martial, imploring, and joyful they entered fully into the mood of this varied and lively programme of opera and oratorio which Hilary Kenway, the choir’s Music Director, conducted and comméred with great energy and humour. Antony Saunders’ reductions of a full opera orchestra to his own two hands at the piano were worth listening to on their own, and clearly inspired both soloists and choir. Young Andrew Dewar at the still-new organ, not to be outdone, used it to play us a flute concerto of surprising delicacy, as well as supporting the oratorio elements in the programme. Youth and maturity were also to be found in the solo items contributed by members of the choir : John Coley magisterial as Sarastro in The Magic Flute and Alex McCallum luminous in ‘Laudate Dominum’ from Mozart’s Vespers. No wonder this choir sounds so good, and in so many languages!

It is difficult, in brief, to pick highlights from such a varied and successful concert (“Classic FM at its best”), just because each part seemed so good in its way, but for this rather unmusical member of the audience Saint Saens’ ‘Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix’,‘Libera me’ from Fauré’s Requiem, and the choruses from The Creation and Brahms’s Requiem will remain as happy memories, and the sheer high spirits of the Anvil chorus with Ron Easy and Andrew Dewar playing anvil on any old iron summed up the bravura of the final section of a generous and vigorous concert.

The Beaminster Festival attracts music lovers from parrocks and bartons all over the West of England. They would be wise to pay another visit to St Mary’s on Saturday 28th November to savour the delights of this choir and Hilary Kenway returning to Radio Three mode in Haydn’s Creation, if they can get a ticket.

John Roberts