Review of the Portsmouth Choral Union’s Armistice Anniversary Concert

Sue Graham Smith writes:

Portsmouth Choral Union’s concert on Saturday consisted of two works; Vaughan Williams’ ‘Dona Nobis Pacem’ (1936) and Howard Goodall’s ‘Eternal Light: a Requiem’ (2008).

The whole concert showed the choir’s well-blended tone and lovely sense of line. They were accompanied sensitively by Southern Pro Musica, and solos were expressively sung by Hugh Hetherington and Tanya Hurst.

Dona Nobis Pacem (‘Give us peace’) is paradoxically disturbing in places, and at times the choir could perhaps have shown greater dramatic impact, with the threatening hints of war being depicted more strongly, but MD David Gostick created a lovely performance, expressive and lyrical.

The final, wonderfully still, resolution mirrored the opening ‘Dona Nobis Pacem’, giving a sense of hope that – after war is over – goodwill and peace may – perhaps – be found.

Goodall’s ‘Eternal Light’ is his re-interpretation of the traditional Requiem; Goodall intersperses church texts with poems such as ‘In Flanders Fields’ and ‘Do not stand at my grave and weep’. He intended this work ‘to provide solace to the grieving’ and the performance was enhanced by fluid, graceful dancing from Giselle Academy, which was appreciated by audience and choir alike.

From the opening there was a beautiful sense of stillness and calm, and although there were moments of uncertainty and drama, the overall feeling was that of compassion and comfort.

The final ‘In Paradisum’ exuded a victorious confidence which resolved into the serene conclusion that God’s eternal light and everlasting peace will reign supreme.

Congratulations to all concerned!

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