LEVENS Choir’s Towards the Light programme, performed at St George’s Church, Kendal, contained two major works expressing their composers’ profound faith: Jesu Meine Freude by J S Bach and Lux Aeterna by Morten Lauridsen, writes ANNE PATER. As such it was an ideal choice for a concert designed for Eastertide but also dedicated to the memory of Christine Cochrane, a former singer with the choir.

The opening work, the much loved Cantique de Jean Racine by Faure, was well paced and showcased a beauty of tone in the sustained passages and exciting well judged crescendos.

Andy Plowman played Buxtehude’s Variations on Wie schon Leuchtet der Morgenstein for organ solo, skilfully choosing registration that demonstrated the wonderful colours of this special, grade one listed organ by Wilkinson.

The Bach is a fine composition and a demanding motet to sing. The choir sang confidently with some good rhythmic pointing, especially by the men, as well as some delightfully expressive singing in the Gute nacht, O Wesen. There was good energy and attack throughout. An occasional lapse in tuning failed to spoil an otherwise strong performance. The continuo was securely played by Andy Plowman and Christine Dittman.

A semi-chorus performed Sweelinck’s Laudate Domine, which provided a light, well articulated, almost madrigal like interlude.

But it was in the final work, the moving Lux Aeterna, that the choir really excelled. This is a beautiful piece by the American composer. It relies for its effectiveness on good intonation, which was never in doubt. From the growling opening by the organ to the final Alleluias of the Agnus Dei, the performance was spellbinding. There was an intensity in the unaccompanied singing, a commitment in the broad Veni Sancte Spiritus, and an unwavering focus from the sustained opening of the Agnus Dei through to the final crescendos of the Alleluia. As always the understanding and interpretation of the music, and the attention to detail brought to the programme by conductor, Ian Jones, was much in evidence.