Ambleside and District Choral Society Spring Concert, St Mary’s Ambleside

MOZART'S much-loved Requiem, his last composition, was the centrepiece of Ambleside and District Choral Society’s spring concert, writes TONY CHAMPION.

Conducted by Jolyon Dodgson, soloists were Tracie Penwarden (soprano), Amy Shaw (mezzo), Robert Thompson (tenor) and Jonathan Millican (baritone). This was a fully committed performance under Jolyon's direction, with choir and orchestra attacking the Dies Irae chorus fiercely. The choir sang with sustained intensity in the taxing fugal choruses which open and close the work; some of the same intensity characterised their rendering of the Lacrymosa chorus, the high point of the work for so many listeners. The soloists' role in the Requiem is predominantly that of a vocal quartet, and they proved well balanced, combining particularly well in the Recordare and Benedictus. Soloists and choir were well supported by the South Cumbria ensemble, led by Wendy Cann, but as ever on these occasions, some extra rehearsal time for the combined forces would have paid dividends.

The second half of the programme comprised shorter choral works by Mozart and Haydn. The choir relished the violent mood changes of Haydn's Insanae et Vanae Curae, but found the going rather harder in the same composer's Little Organ Mass, in which there were some lapses of ensemble and concentration. This work features an elaborate organ obligato in the Benedictus, deftly played by Ian Thompson, and delightfully partnered by Tracie Penwarden, who gallantly appeared at very short notice in place of the indisposed Julie Harvey. The programme, which was enthusiastically received by a capacity audience in St Mary’s Church, concluded with a rousing performance by the combined forces of Mozart’s joyous Regina Coeli, with its unmistakable echoes of the Hallelujah Chorus from The Messiah.