WHAT an evening of celebrations and anniversaries, writes PHILIP BURTON.

Purcell’s music to celebrate the birthday of Queen Mary in 1694 (Come Ye Sons of Arts), Striggio’s 40 part motet Ecce beatam lucem that may have been performed in 1565 to celebrate a marriage between two dynastic families in Florence and the opulent polychoral Missa Scala Aretina by Francisco Valls that simply exudes joy.

Above all, however, it was an evening to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Pro Nobis under their conductor, Clive Walkley. It was a night to remember with distinguished soloists - Evelyn Tubb, Iestyn Morris, Jonathan Millican, Samuel Jenkins and Tamsin Jones - excellent instrumental playing from the Pro Nobis Baroque Players, the Pro Nobis Singers, (with a little help from the Rushley Singers) but above all to acknowledge the inspired leadership of their conductor, Clive Walkley.

The highlight was a stunning performance of the Mass Scala Aretina something that Pro Nobis and Players revelled in. Did Clive imagine 50 years ago, he would be conducting such as ambitious work? Some wonderful ensemble work between the four choirs, for example, in the Sanctus, and many memorable moments of dramatic expression to capture the words such as in the Qui Tollis or in Et Incarantus.

A well balanced performance of Come Ye Sons of Arts with beautiful phrasing from the choir and the Players. I did feel, however, that occasionally the performance lacked the musical sparkle of a birthday celebration.

As a member of the choir performing Striggio’s 40 part motet, Ecce Beatam Lucem the experience of standing within a glorious expansive canvas of sound from the 10 choirs must be something to remember. The biggest logistic challenge of performing this piece at Kendal Parish Church was the staging. To accommodate an expanded choir, the location of the singers meant that the audience were not really able to fully experience that canvas of sound as the sound was caught up in the area they were performing. When the choir came forward for the Mass and Come Ye Sons the sound was rich and balanced. But the contrasts between smaller ensemble work and the full body of sound had telling effect.

But the accolades at the end of the evening bestowed on the choir and Clive were fully deserved for one of the most accomplished choirs in South Lakes. Long may Pro Nobis continue after celebrating a triumphant 50th anniversary concert.