From Credo to Cannibals Hertford Choral Society demonstrated their confidence in tackling contrasting themes and styles. All Saints Church provided the perfect setting for the Little Organ Mass by Franz Haydn with the outstanding Willis organ, expertly played by Peter Jaekel in the Benedictus, solo from which the Mass takes its popular name. Moods ranged from the powerfully rhythmic Kyrie to the tranquil sections of the Credo (well done Altos, lovely sound), contrasted with yearning passion of the Agnus Dei and culminating with an exciting Gloria. In what may be a creative trademark of Music Director Derek Harrison, the movements were reordered and expanded by the inclusion of a duet from Haydn’s Oratorio The Seasons. Here the two soloists Philip Salmon (Tenor) and Dominique Thiébaud (Soprano) demonstrated their musical prowess to the full expanding on the theme of selfless love that ran throughout the programme.
Following this Benjamin Britten’s St Nicholas Cantata was performed in a manner that would have pleased the composer. Professional and amateur musicians joined to give a convincing rendition of music that requires fine tuning with Britten’s unique bi-tonal harmonic language. The Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, expanded by percussion and piano duet were more suited to the imaginative and highly efficient brilliance of Britten’s scoring. They provided an exciting accompaniment to the frequently angular melodic style so bravely taken on by the choir. Philip Salmon once again came to the fore with a powerful portrayal of the Saint, now joined by the crystal clear sound of Will O’Brien as the young St Nicholas and Michael Ochman-Bates, Hugh Reid and Stephen Curley as the Pickled Boys in this extraordinary murderous tale.
This was a spirited and convincing performance, much in keeping with the composer’s original intentions and very much reflective of a choir that seeks to expand its repertoire. Their outreach programme creates opportunities for keen singers of all abilities to enjoy singing beyond the everyday pop song and perform alongside professionals, expertly supported by their conductor. With future performances including Bach’s B Minor Mass, Voices and Jazz and an open rehearsal / performance day ‘’Raise Your Voice’’ now planned keen singers will find much to enjoy.
Head of Music, Richard Hale School