Strong performances for Spring choral concert

ST James’ Episcopal Church, Cruden Bay, was the venue for Peterhead Choral Society’s concert on May 15. The choice of music, which demanded a high degree of concentration for all performers, was particularly appropriate for the setting.

It must be said that the choir and audience found the choral/orchestral balance somewhat daunting in the first item, the dazzling ‘Regina Coeli’ by Mozart, but as the evening progressed and the instrumental scoring required for subsequent items was gradually reduced, the excellent sound produced by the singers became ever clearer and more confident.

The quartet of soloists was well-matched, and it was a joy to listen to them as soloists in various combinations.

This was followed by Handel’s ‘My Song shall be alway’ and Haydn’s ‘Little Organ Mass’.

Haydn’s ‘Salve Regina’, which was performed after the interval, was perhaps the most difficult piece for the choir and orchestra, with one or two anxious moments.

However, the choir sang on stoically and Alistair Macdonald’s competent handling of such moments with orchestra prevented any major catastrophes.

The recital ended with Mozart’s ‘Missa Brevis in F Major’, composed when he was 18.

The programme generally was more ‘choir-intensive than many previous concerts, and the members are to be commended for their hard work and determination over the winter months, with the weather leading to cancellations of practices and their Christmas concert being cancelled.

For a variety of reasons there were fewer singers on Sunday night than normally, but the choir deserves to be congratulated on presenting a tasteful and thoroughly enjoyable programme.

The conductor, Alistair Macdonald, made a good choice of music, and does the area a service by introducing unfamiliar works among old favourites. Admittedly this is an uphill task.

The orchestra, led by Nathalie Vanballenberghe, provided strong yet sensitive support for choristers and soloists alike, especially noteworthy being the parts played by the 1st oboist, and the organist, playing on the church organ which is obviously much improved since its partial renovation.

Peterhead Choral Society has come to expect a meagre audience, but Sunday night’s gathering was larger than usual and was most appreciative.