“Joy to the World” indeed, the stirring title of this excellent concert, delivered by members of the Horncastle and District Choral Society in a variety of Christmas offerings.
The choir settled immediately into Vivaldi’s Gloria, showing all the qualities we have come to associate with their delivery: incisive entries from all four sections, clear diction, excellent control of a varied range of dynamic levels, momentary tiny crescendos and diminuendos within the phrasing, and eloquent pauses in the rhythmic flow, all impeccably controlled by conductor Caroline Boden.
Difficult solo arias were sensitively and eloquently performed by Isabel Wilson, Gail Hinkins and Sylvia Ravenhall.
It was good to see Caroline descend from the podium to share with Gail a duet of sensuous beauty, their voices blending in perfect harmonic balance and rhythmic accuracy.
After the interval, in Cecilia McDowall’s “A Winter’s Night”, the choir magnificently held their own against the attractively quirky harmonies and jazzy rhythms (most elegantly and idiomatically performed by Chris Hinkins) of an accompaniment that offered little practical support to the singers.
There followed five varied and well-chosen choral carols, including John Rutter’s “Jesus Child”, whose hushed final line to each verse, wonderfully controlled, was for me the most memorable moment of the evening.
There was even time for two carols for the audience, whose lusty performance secured Caroline’s approval.
This strikingly beautiful concert would not have been possible without the combined skills of Caroline as conductor and Chris at the piano.