Plymouth Philharmonic Choir’s performance of Dvořák’s Stabat Mater received a standing ovation last Sunday and rightly so, as many who were present: audience members, orchestral players and professional soloists, commented that it was the best that they have ever heard the choir sing. It is one thing to have a reputation as one of the leading choirs in the South West, it is another to deliver performance after performance to support this.
The choir are very fortunate to have a fabulous pool of orchestral players to draw on, led so ably by Jonathan Storer. It is testament to their excellent musicianship that they were able to create such a wonderful performance having only come together to rehearse for the first time that afternoon.
The bell like clarity of soprano Catherine Hamilton’s and tenor Robyn Lyn Evans’ voices were complemented by the rich tones of mezzo-soprano Alison Kettlewell and baritone Eddie Wade. Whether singing solo or as an ensemble they delighted the audience and none more so than when this was in combination with the full forces of the choir.
Warmth and compassion
The choir have relished the task of learning, whether it has been about the back story of the music, the notes, key changes, rhythms, interpretation or vocal techniques. They surpassed themselves on the night, by executing all of this, singing with great technical accuracy but with warmth and compassion from the heart. One example where this was notable was in the final movement, in an a cappella passage sung to the words ‘May my soul be granted the glory of paradise’, which was on another level of the emotional spectrum.
Extraordinary and remarkable
Masterminding the performance was the choir’s Director of Music, Christopher Fletcher. When many might prefer a quiet life, sat at home reading a book, he repeatedly challenges himself and fellow musicians to do something extraordinary and remarkable. His energy, dedication and commitment know no bounds. Christopher’s interpretation of the music is where the magic really lies, together with his ability to communicate this to others and to inspire them to give of their best. He should be immensely proud of this performance.
For some this was their last concert with the choir as they move on to new adventures, for others their first. For everyone it was a moment in time that created a special, unforgettable memory.
top image: Plymouth Philharmonic Choir
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