“I wrote it for all humanity” said Brahms of his German Requiem, refuting the notion that he had joined the pan-German nationalist movement exemplified by Bismark and Wagner. Indeed, he might have called it, with some justification, “A Protestant Requiem” since it is based on texts from the Lutheran bible, rather than the Latin texts favoured by the Catholic Church.

This wonderful work received a truly glorious performance from HCS, the Chameleon Arts Orchestra, and maestro Derek Harrison. The soloists, Claire Seaton (soprano) and Gareth Brynmor John (baritone) were on top form and sang with power and feeling in their respective parts. The choir’s singing was first class, and their German pronunciation, intensively rehearsed, was immaculate and distinct. The problems of balance sometimes occurring in this spacious church were nowhere apparent. Placing the tenors immediately behind the orchestra instead of high in the rafters enabled them to be heard more clearly, and Derek Harrison’s control of the orchestra ensured that they never overpowered the singers, even in the great climaxes. The quiet conclusion of the piece was splendid, a gradual dying away which brought the evening to a peaceful close.

The Requiem performance was complemented by an exhibition of pictures from Hertford Arts Society illustrating various themes from the text. These were colourful and interesting concepts, and added to the enjoyment of the evening.

The concert opened as it closed, with Brahms, in more boisterous mood, in the Academic Festival Overture. This potpourri of student songs, arranged with truly Brahmsian skill, got things off to a rousing start, with the chorus joining in the concluding Gaudeamus Igitur, not Brahms’s idea, but a good one nonetheless. Schubert’s brief but beautiful Stabat Mater followed, sung with taste and feeling, and the first half closed with Mozart’s  Masonic Funeral Music, a piece not composed for an actual funeral, but to accompany a Masonic ceremony. A short work, lasting about four minutes, it nevertheless runs the gamut of emotions, concluding with a triumphant major-key resolution.

A glorious evening of beautiful music.

Gordon Williams

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Come and sing with HCS from September

We will start rehearsing on Tuesday 3rd September, and then every Tuesday at Sele School, Hertford, SG14 2DG for the first concert of our 2019-20 season. It is on Saturday 2nd November 2019 when we will be performing Schubert's Mass in A Flat together with Chilcott's Dances of Time.

New members are very welcome to join, whatever your level of experience. You have the opportunity to join Taster Rehearsals free and, if you decide you would like to sing with us, you can do so for a term for a Taster Fee of £20, including music. HCS is a non-auditioned choir, you can find out more about a typical rehearsal here. If you are interested in coming along and singing with HCS, please contact our Membership Secretary, Trish Goldsmith, on 01992 589730 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   Don’t hesitate to ask any question at all.

We look forward to welcoming you to HCS! Click here for more news from Hertford Choral Society.

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