Review: “Night and Day” concert by The Renaissance Choir

Entitled ‘Night and Day’, Saturday’s concert by The Renaissance Choir was described by conductor Peter Gambie as a programme of contrasts – and it certainly was. There were the obvious contrasts of mood, genre and musical period, but there was more. Dynamic contrasts were in abundance, moving from some remarkably soft sustained singing to vigorous ‘forte’ passages – often in rapid succession. Eric Whitacre’s Lux Aurumque was notable for some very impressive soft and sustained high notes from the choir’s sopranos, it also provided an excellent foil to Byrd’s Laetentur Coeli that opened the concert.

Good pianists are not necessarily good accompanists, but Karen Kingsley is exceptionally accomplished at both. I particularly enjoyed her playing of two movements from Britten’s Holiday Diary, moving from the virtuosic Early Morning Bathe to the atmospheric Night, the pieces were well chosen to maintain the theme of this concert.

The most substantial item on the programme was Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna, and here we were able to hear Karen as accompanist – at all times responsive and supportive, without being intrusive. The choir’s tone and blend of voices suit this work well. There was much gentle singing here with the more dissonant passages well handled, and the more lively moments were rhythmic and appropriately dramatic. The work’s final, quiet ‘Amen’ was held for an impressively long time.

Guerrero’s Duo Seraphim and Wood’s Hail Gladdening Light were sung ‘in the round’. The former, impressive and confidently sung in its three choir layout and the latter providing a fitting conclusion to this enjoyable concert.

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