Review of "Christmas at the Cathedral" on Saturday 15th December 2018
The concert title of "Christmas at the Cathedral" was modest and gave little away regarding the programme but what a musical feast for everyone.
For the aficionado the first half, comprising John Rutter's Requiem, was balm for the musical soul.
The second half, a seasonal miscellany, ranged from traditional carols to well-known 20th century tunes.
The setting of Nelson's Christ Church Cathedral is, of course, exactly right for a concert occasion such as this – small enough to be intimate yet large enough to provide acoustics to match the more modern show songs.
Rutter's Requiem was approached with great sensitivity by both the Nelson Civic Choir and supporting orchestra, the combined forces being ably and enthusiastically conducted by Nigel E. Weeks, the choir's Resident Director of Music.
The work calls for choral and orchestral soloists and all concerned acquitted themselves excellently. What was particularly satisfying was the knowledge that this production majored on local talent of an extremely high standard.
The choir returned for the second half in less-formal attire, reflected by more relaxed programme pieces.
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After the serenity of the traditional opening carol, "Once in Royal David's City" and the contradiction of listening to "In the Bleak Mid-Winter" at the end of a warm Nelson summer's day, we were entertained with other more recent items.
The number of smiling faces at the concert's end told of an evening enjoyed by all.
Review by Peter Radcliffe for Nelson Mail on 18th December 2018.
Nelson Mail - October 1st 2018
Conducted by Nigel Weeks
Nelson School of Music Auditorium
30th September 2018
& Selection of Choruses
St Cecilia Mass - Charles Gounod
Nelson Civic Choir's strong performance a tribute to conductor
It is wonderful to watch a choir responding to their musical director.
The joy and respect shown to guest conductor Nigel Weeks was nothing short of magic.
The Nelson Civic Choir have never been in such great form.
Civic by name and civic by nature, a choir such as this welcomes any singer, no auditions required.
The result is a group of variable singers with a united desire to perform.
That Nigel Weeks was able to cajole and demand accuracy and achieve it is a tribute to him and to the choir whose pleasure was clearly evident and who in fact, at times contributed an exemplary performance.
St Cecilia Mass by Gounod is a fairy tale of melody and lyricism.
The choir sang with clear diction and, after a slightly shaky start managed a range of dynamics worthy of the best choirs.
They were ably supported by a cast of young soloists whose voices melded well with the choir, rising subtly over the pianissimos of the choir.
The small but well controlled orchestra provided a thoughtful and balanced accompaniment with some very polished solo work especially in the brass and woodwind section.
The tremolo work from the strings was particularly impressive.
Throughout this piece the choir maintained a creditable discipline with entries and exits, their eyes fixed ardently on their conductor.
Part of the civic nature of such choirs is to provide opportunities for soloists.
Soprano Zoe Bennet, tenor Chris McRae and bass Ben Kubiak all rose to the occasion both in the Mass and in the second part of the concert where they branched out into various other genres.
The Toreador Aria from the bass Ben Kubiak was very well received, his narrative story telling through musical expression a highlight.
Throughout the concert, Alan Gray on the organ, 'Maestro' according to Nigel Weeks, and Kate Scarlett on the piano played important roles in rich musical support. How lucky the choir are to have two such skilled musicians.
The arrangements of Rutter's A Flower Remembered and Lord of the Dance showed the choir at their most disciplined best achieving a restrained tone and a poignant, reverent interpretation.
Once again, clear diction enabled the audience to engage.
The Nelson Civic choir have every right to be proud of their performance and this reviewer looks forward to their Christmas concert.
Nelson Civic Choir and Orchestra, Conductor Nigel E Weeks, Nelson School of Music Auditorium, Sunday afternoon, reviewed by Ruth Allison.
St Cecilia Mass - Kyrie
St Cecilia - Gloria
St Cecilia Mass - Credo
St Cecilia Mass - Offertory
St Cecilia Mass - Sanctus
St Cecilia Mass - Benedictus
St Cecilia Mass - Agnus Dei
Vaughan Williams - All People That On Earth Do Dwell
Handel - Zadok the Priest
Donizetti - Chorus of the Wedding Guests
Mozart - Ave Verum
Rutter - A Flower Remembered
Verdi - Va Pensiero
arr. Rutter - Lord of the Dance
Messiah - George Frederick Handel
Conducted by Pete Rainey
Nelson School of Music Auditorium
25-26th May 2018
(With Chroma Choir and Orchestra)
Nelson Mail - May 27th 2018
Choir handles Messiah with aplomb
Members of the Nelson Civic Choir performing Handel's Messiah at the Nelson Centre for Musical Arts.
Nelson Civic Choir, Chroma Chamber Choir and Orchestra, soloists Rebecca Ryan, Claire Barton, Oliver Sewell, William King
Nelson Centre for Musical Arts, Friday May 26
Reviewed by Ruth Allison
A fitting first big concert for the newly refurbished NCMA, Handel's Messiah has enthralled audiences for over 250 years and tonight's performance was no exception.
This is big story telling: contemplations on the life of Christ and Christian redemption, full of dramatic twists and turns.
The Civic Choir, ably accompanied by four young soloists and a small but for the most part finely tuned orchestra rose to the occasion, giving their all in the numerous choruses to narrate the birth, death and resurrection.
They were accompanied by the Chroma Chamber Choir. This is an accomplished choir. They deliver crisp and confident articulation particularly in 'His yoke is easy, his burthen light'.
Both choirs were animated and disciplined. They reached out to their audience, engaging them in the narrative although I would have liked to have heard more derision and scorn in 'He trusted in God'.
The four soloists added mystery and magic. Soprano Rebecca Ryan's graceful 'How beautiful are the feet' was a standout. Tenor Oliver Sewell sang with clarity and sensitive phrasing. Claire Barton was at her best in her empathetic 'He was despised'. Baritone William King reached out to his audience, drawing them into the climatic moment of 'The trumpet shall sound' a rendition made more pleasurable by the strong trumpet solo.
At the centre of the strong performance was the beautifully restored organ and in the capable hands of Alan Gray it drew together the choir, the soloists and the orchestra.
At the helm Peter Rainey provided clear, confident direction. The audience were well entertained and the final chorus 'Worthy is the Lamb' a rousing conclusion.
Photograph by Colin Davis
1&2 Sinfonietta and Comfort ye - Tenor
4 And the glory - Choir
6 And who may abide - Alto
7 And he shall purify - Choir
11 The people that walked - Bass
21 His yoke is easy - Chroma
22 Behold the lamb of God - Choir
28 He trusted in God - Choir
28 He trusted in God - Choir
38 How beautiful are the feet - Soprano
40 Why do the nations - Bass
44 Hallelujah Chorus - Choir
45 I know that my redeemer - Soprano
53 Worthy is the lamb + Amen Chorus