Carmina Burana (2019)

Combined Nelson performance of Carmina Burana 'magnificent'

Jenny Snadden

16:58, May 21 2019


Nelson Civic Choir, Nelson Symphony Orchestra, Nayland College Girls Choir and soloists perform magnificent concert of Carmina Burana.


A capacity audience filled Nelson College Hall on Sunday 19th May to hear the enduringly popular Carmina Burana presented by Nelson Civic Choir, Nelson Symphony Orchestra, Nayland College Girls' Choir and soloists.

And what an afternoon, for sheer exuberance and joyous music making that ended in a standing ovation from delighted listeners.

From the first spine-chilling thump of the great drum announcing "O fortuna", the choir, orchestra and soloists took us on an exciting journey of musical challenges that were well met and at times deeply moving.

In an inspired coupling, the recital began with Carl Orff's English contemporary Ralph Vaughan Williams' setting of the well-known hymn "Let all the world in every corner sing" (Antiphon from his 5 Mystical Songs), which gave the audience a first exciting taste of things to come.

Then came his Dona Nobis Pacem, with its densely chromatic writing for both orchestra, soloists and choir, which spoke of the composer's heartsick plea for peace whilst World War 2 was looming.

Soprano Lilia Carpinelli's glorious solo lines soared over choir and orchestra with effortless beauty and the baritone recitatives were suitably sombre.

This reviewer was brought to tears at the end of "Dirge for two veterans" showing that the score's undoubted challenges for singers had been turned into purely affecting sound.

The audience was ready for the very different atmosphere of Carmina Burana, knowing they were in for a rollicking ride through a medieval playbook of pagan toasts to the seasons, to love and lust, drinking, feasting and the sins of the flesh, along with glorious intervals of courtly love song.

Our orchestra, choir and soloists did not disappoint, with all the familiar numbers tackled with great energy and obvious enthusiasm which is so pleasing to an audience. 

Occasionally the exuberance of an orchestra at full tilt almost overpowered the gallant choir whose entries were at times a little tentative, but they would re-group and impress us again with a sheer wall of sound punching through the full orchestra.

It was exhilarating to hear the complex percussion and woodwind adding to the mix, and again, Lilia Carpinelli's beautifully operatic soprano solos delighted.

Baritone Graeme O'Brien had to negotiate Orff's big challenges for that part, making him leap through registers that verged on falsetto at times growling down to bass, but his excellent diction kept the narrative flowing, and of course the Roasting Swan, sung by tenor Ian Tetley, delighted the keenly anticipating audience with its clever posturing that hid a superb vocal control.

The final effect of the combined musical forces brought us a magnificent afternoon of music-making, all under the experienced baton of conductor Nigel Weeks who is to be congratulated on bringing such a vibrant programme to fruition.

Choir Committee
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Phone:  021 061 2568

Noel Stephens (Acting Chairperson)

Lindsay Vaughan (Treasurer)

Karen Gibson (Acting Secretary)

Patti Martin (Committee member)

Akasha Doel (Youth Representative)