CELEBRATING Parry was a very generous programme of music by Parry (1848-1918) and Brahms (1833-1897), writes MARGARET FANCY.

Parry had always admired the music of Brahms and his Elegy for Brahms clearly showed the older composer’s influence. Here was Parry the Melodist, with lilting passages and soaring climaxes.

Directed by Ian Jones, the Cumbria Festival Orchestra and Chorus concert programme opened with Brahms’ Song of Destiny for Chorus and Orchestra. Inspired by Holderlin’s poem, it produced some beautiful legato singing from the chorus. Their dynamics were varied and appropriate here, and throughout the concert, as they responded to Ian Jones’s direction.

Another piece for Chorus and Orchestra - Nänie - was a setting of a Schiller poem. Again the large choir’s quiet singing was impressive with excellent tone, and the organ gave added depth to the orchestral playing. The choir’s German text was not clear enough, however; they were happier with the Latin and English of subsequent pieces.

Parry’s Magnificat for Chorus, Soloist and Orchestra was wonderfully rich and melodious; the thrilling opening bars, sung by the chorus and soloist, truly ‘magnified the Lord.’ Anna Cooper’s Mary was sincere and wondering as she sang in praise of God who had chosen her to be the Mother of Jesus.

Here again the dynamics were telling, particularly in the quiet openings of some sections. Roland Fudge’s violin solo in His Mercy is on them that fear Him was gently played to the quiet accompaniment of the voices and orchestra.

There was also excellent unison singing from both men’s and women’s voices.

Ian Jones’ helpful programme-note told us that Sir Henry Wood had thought this piece would remain in the musical canon for years to come. Sadly it has been neglected. Let us hope this performance in Kendal will bring it to a new audience; it deserves to be heard more often.

Variations on the St Anthony Chorale is always popular with audiences. The orchestra played with depth of feeling for the music, managing the tricky rhythms with apparent ease.

The Kendal Parish Church concert ended with three of Parry’s best known works: Blest Pair of Sirens, I was Glad… and Jerusalem.

Blest Pair of Sirens, was sung with energy and enjoyment by the choir.

I was Glad…a beautiful setting of Psalm 122, has a patriotic tone and led appropriately into the rousing singing of Jerusalem by both choir and audience.

This was an excellent evening of heartfelt singing and playing, to a full and appreciative audience.