Kind comments by Sir Neville Marriner, April 2015 ( after which he agreeed to become our Patron). 


"Lyme Bay Chorale is already on the map, and I am very happy to be associated with it. I was very impressed with the repertoire and the presentation of your last concert - it's exactly the kind of enthusiasm and commitment that I love in music and the standard the Choir achieves is a notable benchmark for both amateur and professional music-making in our part of the country."  Neville Marriner

 

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A Review by Paul Esswood of our Baroque Winter concert on 23rd November 2014.

Paul Esswood is one of the leading counter-tenors in the world. He has made countless recordings and performs internationally both singing and conducting. He is equally sought after as teacher for master-classes and juror in competitions.

 

 

Paul Esswood

This is what he said about our concert:


Dear members of Lyme Bay Chorale,


It was a great delight to hear your concert in St. Michael’s Church last Sunday. I was totally in agreement with the audience’s heartfelt applause in appreciation of your convincing performance of the works by Handel and Vivaldi.


I could see and hear that you were excellently prepared by Alex Davies, your admirable musical Director, in all aspects of the performance. What I very much admired was your commitment and concentration in performing what was often quite difficult music. Some extended vocal ‘runs’ and long phrases which you executed with skill and firmness of tone.


Alex has asked me to also suggest where further improvements could be made. Firstly, please feel assured that what you were doing was at all times consistent with good choral singing. You were alert and gave exactly what the Director was asking of you. You are to be highly commended for that.


Of course, there is always room for improvement and I would just point to a few possible areas which you could work on. I was always able to understand your words when you were singing with a strong tone. However, it was more difficult to understand the words when you were singing quietly and with longer notes. Whilst it is true that singers must always sing on the vowels, consonants are rather important for the audience to understand what you are singing about. Two things here: - A much stronger ‘attack’ on initial consonants (and consonants in general) would help to produce a quicker delivery to the beginning of a note. Energy level for consonants needs to be higher when you sing ‘piano’ for example. Also, strong consonants help the voice to speak to start with a stronger tone (not just creeping into the note). You were all wonderful when you attacked the first note in the Purcell ‘Soul’ of the world. Similarly with the first note of ‘Hallelujah’ in the final chorus. These strong entries were delightful. You must have the same, or even more energy, when you have a quiet entry.

The tone of the choir is very good. The tenors and Basses of the Chorale had an excellent tone production. I am sorry Ladies, the men won this time! You could have been a little stronger for a better balance. It is important for all singers in a choir to take personal responsibility for their choral entries. Don’t wait for your neighbour to start and then creep in after them. So ladies, a stronger sound in general is needed to balance up with the confident and strong sound of the gentlemen.


Having said that, the intonation of the Chorale was always excellent. Congratulations. It should not be taken for granted that this is an easy thing to achieve. Despite what I have said about the small weakness of the ladies against the gentlemen, the choir did always sound very well balanced in the various parts.


It was a wonderful late afternoon/ evening feast of singing which was thoroughly enjoyable. And it was also, as you yourselves showed, very much enhanced by some very good solo singing. On this occasion, outstanding were both the sopranos, Philippa and Chloe, who with their remarkably well balanced voices sounded so wonderful in duet. I hope that you were all suitably impressed and inspired by their singing?


Once more, many congratulations on such an entertaining evening of vocal presentations.


Wishing you all many further successes in the future,

Paul Esswood.

 

A review of our Christmas concert on 8 December 2013 by local musician Richard Godfrey:

Fine Christmas fare from the Lyme Bay Chorale

Once again, Alex Davies and the Lyme Bay Chorale produced a first-class concert, to the obvious delight of a large audience at the parish church. There were several invited guest musicians to help make the concert such a success. These included eight brass players and a timpanist from South West Brass, whose trumpets, trombones and tuba played an exciting role in much of the afternoon's programme. Just occasionally they could not resist demonstrating that they could easily overwhelm the combined forces of choir, audience and full organ with as thrilling a sound as can ever been heard in the church. Other guests were Roisin Linnet (violin) and her teacher, Sudhi Salooja. They played most beautifully in Elgar's lovely part song The Snow.

 

The guest conductor for the concert was Dr Peter Milmer, music director of the Seaton Choral Society. Throughout the concert he held the combined forces of the choir and brass together with his clear beat and always appropriate tempi. In the Rutter Gloria it was a joy to watch him negotiating the constantly changing jazzy syncopated rhythms, at the same time transmitting to the choir the confidence needed for this challenging piece. His presence allowed Alex Davies to accompany the entire concert on the organ and occasionally the piano. This he did marvellously, with especially beautiful effects in the Britten Missa Brevis, where the organ part calls for the utmost virtuosity.

 

What of the programme itself? It was an eclectic mix, with something for everybody (and of course a strong flavour of Christmas). However, there were also two very significant choral works, both based on the Latin Ordinary of the Mass but entirely different in character. These were Benjamin Britten's Missa Brevis (1959) and John Rutter's Gloria (1975). As is the case of many of his works, Britten composed the Missa Brevis for a specific choir and person, namely Westminster Cathedral Boys Choir and their organist, George Malcolm. It is unique in the way it explores the haunting effect of boys' voices singing in three-part harmony, often with close intervals and an organ accompaniment of extraordinary imagination and colour. The sopranos and altos of the Lyme Bay Chorale coped well with the difficult intervals and wide dynamic range of this music, although of course they were spread rather thinly through being relatively small in number. Another half dozen would have let the great climax at the end of the Benedictus make an even more thrilling impact.

 

Rutter's Gloria was composed more or less exactly for the forces available on this occasion, with only the percussion being not quite up to strength. It is one of Rutter's more substantial works, with three distinct sections. The fast outer parts are full of brass fanfares and rhythmic excitement, and here the LBC showed off just what a talented smallish choir can do when backed by great brass players, magnificent organ accompaniment and a first-rate conductor.

 

RICHARD GODFREY

Music consultant to the Lyme Regis Organ School