Our thanks to Moira McCarty for allowing the publication of this crit of our concert on Saturday 8th April 2017, which was prepared for publication in the Sunderland Echo :
“On a beautiful sunny evening in early April, an eager audience gathered in Sunderland Minster to hear the spring concert of the Bishopwearmouth Choral Society, conducted by David Murray. We have come to expect nothing less than excellence from this society and we certainly weren’t disappointed!
As usual, Murray had assembled a fine group of musicians who accompanied the choir with finesse, producing a well balanced sound throughout. Similarly, the soloists were of an extremely high calibre; we were treated to some unforgettable performances.
The programme consisted of two fine religious works by Mozart: the Solemn Vespers in the first half was succeeded by his magnificent unfinished Mass in C minor in the second.
The Solemn Vespers, written during Mozart’s time of service to Archbishop Coloredo in Salzburg, was simply divine. The choir, accompanied by strings, trumpets, trombones, percussion and organ, gave us six movements of varying character. This was a moving interpretation of Mozart’s work, the collective performance evoking moments of intense jubilation and quiet contemplation. The Laudate Dominum, said to be one of Mozart’s finest pieces of writing for the solo voice, was particularly memorable and Laurie Ashworth gave a captivating performance. Her sweet clear voice perfectly complemented the chorus. The piece concluded with a rousing confident Magnificat, the choir displaying their fine blend, timing and attention to detail under the expert direction of Murray.
Mozart’s unfinished Mass in C Minor was performed with crisp articulation and vibrant tone, capturing the different stylistic features of the piece, rousing fugues and large choruses contrasting with gentle almost angelic solos.
The audience was totally engaged throughout the whole magnificent piece, but some particularly notable sections deserve a special mention.
Ashworth’s soaring soprano solo in the Christe was particularly uplifting. In the Domine Deus, she was joined by mezzo soprano Samantha Price, producing a pyrotechnic duet that can only be described as mesmerising. The Et Incarnatus Est, featuring some of Mozart’s finest writing for woodwind, was a gentle contemplative solo by Ashworth, a total contrast to the rousing eight part Sanctus that followed. The attention to detail and perfect timing was evident in the challenging fugal Osanna sections which followed. This in turn was followed by a terrific Benedictus from the four soloists, where Ashworth and Price were joined by tenor Richard Pinkstone and Baritone Alexander Robin Baker, also in magnificent voice . A reprise of the Osannna from the choir, all four soloists and full orchestra brought this thrilling performance to a close. The prolonged enthusiastic applause that followed was truly deserved.
David Murray once again triumphed with this performance, leading his amateur Choral Society with such dedication and skill that time and time again he inspires them to perform at a level any professional choir would be proud of. We are indeed privileged to have such a society on our doorstep in Sunderland and I would urge anyone to go along and support them.”