Kendal South Choir, St Thomas’s Church, Kendal

A LARGE audience was treated to a skilfully devised programme on the theme of Mary, starting with a setting of the Magnificat by Vivaldi which choir, soloists and orchestra performed with evident enjoyment. The nine short movements were well contrasted in style with a splendidly concerted opening and some well negotiated rhythms in later movements. A chamber organ would have suited the music better than the resident organ and it was perhaps a shame that the gaps between movements were quite so long but the four soloists, Katy Thompson, Sarah Jillian Cox, Jacob Clark and Charlie Murray were stylistic and well matched.

Five short unaccompanied pieces for the choir followed including a movement from the Rachmaninov Vespers, which suited the choir well and created a convincing Russian sound. Maintaining pitch was a problem occasionally, particularly in the pieces by Grieg and Britten, but never so much as to spoil the enjoyment of some very sensitive singing.

The triumph of the evening was a new work - Magnificat by Lancaster-born Oliver Tarney - which was receiving its first Kendal performance. Once again the four soloists were splendid: confident in their intonation and committed to the text. Kendal South responded very well indeed to the physical and vocal demands of this very substantial piece. The performance was entirely convincing and frequently very moving as the composer captured the very human responses which Mary and Joseph must have felt to their situation. Most impressive of all was the writing for the orchestra which was played superbly by the strings, percussion and piano, led by Jill Jackson.

Altogether this was a most rewarding evening’s music-making and the choir, under Don Gillthorpe’s guidance are to be congratulated.

Ian Jones