On December 15, the Horncastle and District Choral Society presented their Christmas Concert, dedicated to the memory of Robert Wilson.
Howard Goodall’s “Eternal Light”, a modern work in very approachable idiom, illuminated by sweet and unexpected cadences and attractive melody, was conducted by Thomas-Colin Thorpe making his debut appearance for the Society.
The performance was notable for the wonderful singing of outstanding beauty and control by soloists Gail Hinkins and Paul Wright.
Smaller solo roles were effectively performed by Peter Tayles and Len Sutton.
The choir, understandably hesitant and nervous at the outset, was eventually spurred on to achieve a moving and optimistic conclusion in the last two movements.
After the interval, under the demonstrative, forthright and inspiring leadership of Anne Brown, the choir excelled in a powerfully festive performance of the opening chorus of Bach’s Wachet Auf, exhilarating in its joyous enthusiasm. (It drew an encouragingly spontaneous burst of “illegal” applause.)
Here too, in the second movement, was an opportunity to relish the remarkable solo keyboard skills of Chris Hinkins.
Equally enjoyable was the elaborate interweaving of one of Bach’s most alluring melodies with the firmly-held vocal line by the tenors, given here an unusual share of the limelight.
A fine performance of O Magnum Mysterieum and a moment for the audience to participate in two carols followed.
The evening ended joyously with the witty and imaginative arrangement of “Wassail” by Chris in compositional mode.
All pre-concert pessimism on the part of the performers had been proved entirely unnecessary from an audience’s perspective.
Review by Don Ford