Our thanks to Philip Sanderson for allowing the publication of this crit of our concert on Saturday 3rd December 2016, which was prepared for and published in the Sunderland Echo :
“On the first Saturday in December Sunderland Minster was full of people eager to hear Bishopwearmouth Choral Society and Bishopwearmouth Young Singers. It was obvious that many concert-goers had heard this society before, conducted by David Murray, and had incredibly high expectations; this was confirmed by the friendly and warm pre-concert chit chat.
The concert opened with John Rutter’s All Bells in Paradise. This was delicate and detailed, both from the Choir and instrumentalists, but had the power and energy when needed. As with most of the concert, it was perfectly accompanied by the Society Accompanist, Eileen Bown, who was also joined by a string quintet and percussion. The players in this ensemble were first class, responding to Murray’s fine musicianship and attention to a musically blended and balanced sound. This remarkable mixture and timbre continued throughout the concert. Murray’s additional string scoring stood out in Four Old English Carols by Gustav Holst.
Another theme running through this wonderful concert was the music of Bob Chilcott. His rather quirky and clever music showed both Bishopwearmouth Choral Society and its Young Singers to be a choir that could quite easily grace many professional choirs with their control and ability. Both choirs had clearly been well-prepared by their respective leaders. The biggest Chilcott highlight was his rather tremendous version of the Twelve Days of Christmas. If you have not heard it, let us hope David Murray puts it on future Christmas programmes.
The Bishopwearmouth Young Singers, “although small in number, but big in heart” as described on the night, were exactly that. Their performance of Michael Head’s “What Christmas Means to Me,” was of particular rhythmic challenge, but so highly effective. Well done to them.
David Murray not only directed this incredible concert but also treated us to a work of his own he resurrected from a number of years ago. So long he would not tell us. He shared two numbers, Oh Ebenezer and The Carol Sequence and from his musical A Christmas Carol. Both were splendid.
All of this concert could be talked about as every item had something that had taken some considerable work and skill. However, one that must be pointed out is a piece by Edward Watson: Pies Cakes and Puddings. This was one of two novel pieces by this composer in the concert. Pies Cakes and Puddings required the choir to, one thinks, imitate a couple of kitchen gadgets. Exactly what gadgets these were I’m not sure: blender or electric whisk perhaps? Whatever it was the tenors and basses did it very well.
If you know Bishopwearmouth Choral Society and their Young Singers are doing a concert, whatever your age, taste or preference of music that can be sung by a choir, I encourage you to go. This is a very musical choral society where the music matters, both from its singers and the fine instrumentalists providing the very colourful accompaniment. The adults and young people work together in a way where the immense musicality of its leadership is enjoyed by the listeners via the superb work of the singers and instrumentalists.
All of the music in this concert had a connection with English music, composers or themes. One particularly English thing about it, however, was the fact that the applause said it all: standing ovations and deep-felt praise. But beyond that, typically English: probably a few kind words and some politeness is all that ensues for a few weeks, when really this concert deserves to be shouted about in a truly non-English way. Thank you Bishopwearmouth Choral Society, Bishopwearmouth Young Singers and your associated instrumentalists – keep up this marvellous work. I hope to see any reader at the next concert. Happy Christmas.”