Hertford Choral Society's concert in All Saints' Church on November 12th was described as an "eclectic" journey and, my goodness, it was - choral and instrumental music from the 16th and 20th centuries,stopping on the way in 1736 and 1885.

The choir, with the brass and percussion of The Chameleon Orchestra, began with five Renaissance songs and dances that suited the acoustic well.  After a nervous start, the singers produced a splendid climax to the final verse of Arbeau's Pavane.  This tune, made familiar in Peter Warlock's Capriol Suite, provided a tenuous link to the next work by Warlock's friend Gerald Finzi.  Finzi's Eclogue for piano and strings is pastoral and melancholic with swells of emotion that were beautifully interpreted by pianist Elizabeth Shepherd.  She showed mastery of an entirely different style in Constant Lambert's Rio Grande with jazz, Brazilian dances and abundant flamboyance.  Here, the choir made a confident entrance and, skilfully controlled by Derek Harrison, continued to negotiate their way effectively through unexpected turns of mood and style, integrating well with orchestra and piano.  Some of Sacheverell Sitwell's words were not clear, but his description of dancing and singing was beautifully delivered.  Kate Symonds-Joy, a young mezzo soprano gaining national acclaim, provided the soaring solo.

Bruckner's Ecce Sacerdos combines trombones and organ with taxing choral parts, particularly upper voices, but they coped well and the plainsong Gloria was lovely.  Peter Jaekel was the soloist in Handel's G minor Organ Concerto with a sensitively ornamented performance, but the string accompaniment lacked vitality and period style.  John Rutter's Gloria ended the programme, demonstrating more complicated and harmonically interesting writing than many of his very popular carols.  The choir needed some athleticism and were mostly successful, although sometimes overpowered by the brass.  This was a most enterprising concert and a tribute to the innovation of Derek Harrison and his enthusiastic choir.

Jennifer Hopkins

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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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