My date for the evening was my 10 year old godson, Charlie, and we both loved this varied, confident and intimate concert.
The counter tenor solo was accomplished and the choirs first, bright, ringing chord set just the right tone for the rest of the piece. The real highlight for me was the baritone soloist. His elegant performance was an absolute joy.
I remember singing Haydn's classic Insane Et Vanae Curae as a treble in my church choir growing up. It's always a challenge to perform such a favourite piece - there's nowhere to hide! The choir was superb though, particularly the sopranos - it's a tough sing!
The six motets by Mendelssohn were another joy and I loved the differences between each one and how the choir beautifully captured the mood of each, really holding the interest of the audience. The strength of each individual voice part was really showcased during the fugal sections and the attention to detail was exquisite.
Salve Regina by Herbert Howells is another favourite piece of mine. Judging by this performance, it is also a favourite of the choir and indeed the conductor. Hope's fluid conducting brought the best out of the choir, particularly in the more expansive passages when everyone was singing their hearts out, producing a warm and vibrant sound.
The Tippett Five Negro Spirituals was the highlight of the concert for me. It was a really dramatic performance and every voice part had the chance to shine, particularly the altos and basses in Deep River. It was also a great opportunity to hear some of the wonderful voices from within the choir. Charlie loved this one too and was perched on the edge of his seat in rapt attention from the first gentle 'Steal Away' until the choir faded away to nothing at the end of Deep River.
The final piece, Parry's Blest Pair of Sirens was clearly another popular hit with the choir and made for an exhilarating ending to the concert. The complex choral writing was ably handled under Hope's confident direction, which clearly showed a real love of this piece.
Overall, this was a fantastic and varied programme of well loved music, delivered with passion and aplomb. And Charlie's verdict? 'That was awesome! I can't wait until I sing Nobody knows one day!' And I think that says it all...