Handel's Messiah at Malvern Priory was a resounding success
What a delight it was to hear young voices singing the solos in Handel’s Messiah, composed over 250 years before they were born, and performing with Malvern Festival Chorus in the beautiful Great Malvern Priory, built 600 years before Handel was born. The young soloists had successfully auditioned earlier in the year through the choir’s Young Voices project, a new initiative to encourage young people to participate in the great choral tradition. The talent and composure of Molly Stokes, Emily Evans, Amy Heptinstall, Holly Gowen, Beth Rabjohn and Michael Burgess certainly belied their youth.
Performing to a packed Priory, Malvern Festival Chorus was accompanied by the accomplished organist, Julian McNamara, who had last played in that lovely venue some 20 years previously, and trumpeter Richard Powell.
Conductor Jonathan Brown, Director of Music at Malvern College, said “Clearly having the young voices being part of the concert was an excellent project coming to its culmination and very impressive they were too; they really added to the occasion.” He also praised Malvern Festival Chorus for their absolutely first-class vocal and emotional commitment in the performance.
With the concert taking place the evening before Palm Sunday, Parts 2 and 3 of Handel’s sublime work set the perfect tone for Holy Week and the buzz at the end suggested that both audience and performers were departing uplifted.
Malvern Festival Chorus is now looking forward to singing under Jonathan Brown’s baton once again in Brahms’s masterpiece A German Requiem, to be performed in Malvern Theatres on Saturday, 23 June 2018. Any choral singers who would like to join them for this concert will receive a warm welcome at the choir’s rehearsals on Tuesday evenings at 7.45 pm in Chase School Hall. Full details are on their website, www.malvernfestivalchorus.co.uk.
Malvern Gazette, 27 April 2018
Spectacular building in which to watch a performance. The seats aren't the most comfortable though, but didn't detract from a great experience.
Ask AxbridgeClaret about Great Malvern Priory
Grand concert ends a season
Malvern Festival Chorus recently brought their 2016/17 Season of Feasts to a grand finale with their concert at Malvern Theatres.
And they were joined in song by members of the London-based 1885 Singers and their conductor, Alison Hunka.
A spokesman said: "A near-capacity and highly appreciative audience heard a rousing performance of Walton’s intensely vivid Belshazzar’s Feast conducted by MFC’s Director of Music, Richard Knight, accompanied by a 49-piece orchestra of the Regency Sinfonia, with professional baritone soloist Stewart Kempster. The work moves from the darkness of the lamenting Israelite slaves, through the great feast of the Babylonians, to the light of the freed slaves’ exuberance as they praise God for their freedom."
The spokesman added: "The first half of the concert featured Richard Knight’s own compositions, ‘Immortality’ for choir and ‘Ebb’ for 3 soloists and chamber orchestra; fine examples of descriptive words expressed by atmospheric music. The idea of ‘immortality' led into the ‘ebb and flow’ of a dying woman’s thoughts. The libretti by Robert G Ingersoll and Norman Welch were movingly expressed by the haunting music, with performances by Alexandra Tiffin, Kevin Ilsley and Stewart Kempster fusing together the lament of the young woman, the words of wisdom from her father, and the Latin mass sung by her uncle, a priest.
"Two more familiar pieces, conducted by Alison Hunka, completed the programme: Verdi’s Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves which set the scene for the concert and Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance no 5, which opened the second half."
The concert was supported by the Elmley Foundation.
Gary Bills-Geddes - Malvern Gazette, 30 June 2017
Come and Sing a Feast of Music - Saturday 11 February 2017
If Music be the Food of Love….
More than 180 singers came together in Great Malvern Priory on Saturday 11 February for a Feast of choral singing.
Hosted by Malvern Festival Chorus, the programme featured Hallelujah choruses by both Handel and Beethoven as well as much-loved choruses by Mozart, Haydn, Brahms, Faure and Rossini. A fun addition to the programme was a round, “Square Meals”, composed for the event.
It was this appetising programme that attracted around 85 guest singers, from across the county and beyond, to the Come & Sing workshop. Morning and afternoon rehearsals were followed by tea with home-made cakes and a short evening concert. The audience were treated to the fruits of the practising and conductor, Richard Knight, said afterwards:
'The MFC Come and Sing Day was great fun: lots of rousing singing of choral classics, fuelled by lots of tea and cake; what better way to deal with a cold February day? It was a brilliant example of what participating in music-making can do for a sense of community'
Members of Malvern Festival Chorus enjoyed the day so much that they are requesting another similar event in the near future. Judging from feedback from visiting singers, they could expect another enthusiastic response from non-members too. Here is an example of the comments they made:
‘I would like to record my thanks to you all at Malvern Festival Chorus for a very happy and stimulating day at Come and Sing. Thank you to your conductor Richard for his energy and encouragement, and to all whose enthusiasm and hard work made the day such a success.’ - Christine Wells
Malvern Festival Chorus - Saturday 12th March, 2016
Malvern Theatre was the setting for a performance by Malvern Festival Chorus of ‘Blest Pair of Sirens’ by C.H.H. Parry and Sir Edward Elgar’s ‘The Music Makers’.
Under their Musical Director, Richard Knight, the chorus were in fine voice, and did justice to both works. Where better to perform Sir Edward Elgar’s music than in Malvern, where the hills did so much to mould and inspire him? The work quotes a number of well-known themes from other pieces of his music and the love of his music really shone through in the performance.
In addition to the solos in ‘The Music Makers’, Janet Shell delighted the audience with her warm expressive singing of ‘ Les nuits d’été’, a cycle of 6 songs by Hector Berlioz.
The Regency Sinfonia as always supported the soloist and chorus well, if perhaps a little too loudly at times, as is often the case with a large orchestra.
Malvern Gazette, 18 March 2016