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Sunday, 25 March 2018

LPAC CONCERT REVIEW | DVORAK/POULENC LIGHTS UP MILL HILL

LONDON PRO ARTE CHOIR
 SATURDAY 24 MARCH 2017
 ST MICHAEL's CHURCH, FLOWER LANE, MILL HILL
 DVORAK Mass in D POULENC Gloria
 REVIEW

The first concert of 2018 by the London Pro Arte Choir was an unfamiliar programme for many of the large audience which made their way to the lovely St Michael's Church in Mill Hill. However, an evening of thoughtful and beautiful music lay ahead.

 The audience faced East and the choir was set up in three blocks in front of the Choir Stalls. Accompanied only by the organ the programme started with introductions from the church's vicar Father Stephen who had been impressed with the rehearsal sounds which drifted into his window next door !

 The two pieces both were sung in Latin and had a religious context which fitted with the venue and the Lenten season. The Dvorak Mass in D is more commonly found in Cathedral programmes and is not performed too often. This is a real shame because it is a lovely Mass setting. It was clear from the beginning that the Choir had understood how to sing this piece for maximum effect. Smooth textures and use of dynamics brought life to each part. The organ was played lightly and with excellent registrations. The whole effect was one of reverence and the audience responded warmly to the this. The Mass was divided into two by a solo organ piece by Bach.

 After the interval the much anticipated Gloria by Poulenc was performed. A stunning work which again does not get enough performances. This was the first time I had seen this without an orchestra but it allowed the text to shine. The choir again showed their sensitive side pulling out the quiet drama of the piece effectively. The solo soprano was taken by Augusta Hebbert  and her voice shimmered in the acoustic of St Michael's with a fine clarity. The finishing Amens at the end left a period of silence before the audience gave a huge round of applause bringing back the Conductor Tom Winpenny, the soloist and organist to the stage a couple of times and having them presented with gifts as well.

 Mill Hill is lucky to have such an excellent choir on their doorstep who give a high standard of performance for less than £15 and Under 18s going free. This concert showed that the choir is developing well under Tom Winpenny and is capable of taking on some unfamiliar and sensitive work in their repertoire. Their next concert is on June 16 " Feel the Spirit " with pieces by Rutter and Lauridson, and I would recommend that you go along and see for yourself. There are also some big plans for later in the year as the choir looks to bring in new members and we will bring you the details in the summer.

Tom Winpenny


NOTES


Augusta Hebbert (Soprano) Augusta Hebbert is a
graduate of the Guildhall School of Music, an ENO
OperaWorks Artist and a Britten Pears Young
Artist. She studies with American Soprano Sheila
Barnes. In concert her repertoire spans works as
diverse as Verdi Requiem, Haydn Nelson Mass,
Haydn Creation, Mozart Vespers, Bach St John and
St Matthew Passions and Handel Messiah in
venues including
London’s Cadogan Hall, Royal
Festival Hall, St
John’s Smith Square, King’s Place,
Salisbury, Gloucester, Exeter and Rochester
Cathedrals. In opera she made her debut at
Théâtre du Capitole, Toulouse in Handel's
Belshazzar under Rene Jacobs, has toured in the
role of Countess (Mozart Marriage of Figaro) for
ENO Opera Squad, worked with Louis Langrée, Ivor
Bolton and Pablo Heras-Casado at Aix International
Opera Festival, and with British Youth Opera, Bury
Court Opera and Opera Settecento. In recital she made her Barbican Main Hall debut performing Mahler's Knaben Wunderhorn.



Charles Andrews (Organ) is Accompanist of Hertfordshire Chorus and London Pro Arte Choir. He studied at the Royal College of Music with the aid of a Douglas & Kyra Downie Award. The RCM awarded Charles the Harold Darke Memorial Prize for organ. Charles was Associate Director of Music at All Saints, Margaret Street from 2011-16. Before studying at the RCM, he held the Michael James organ scholarship at Rochester Cathedral. Recently Charles has appeared as a soloist at Christopher Summer Festival, Vilnius and the International Organ Festival of Ivan Sokol in Slovakia. He has given the first performances of works by David Briggs and Philip Moore. His plans for the near future include returning to Slovakia to perform in summer 2018. 


Tom Winpenny (Conductor) is Assistant Master
of the Music at St Albans Cathedral where his
duties include directing the acclaimed Abbey
Girls Choir and accompanying the daily choral
services. Previously he was Sub-Organist at St
Paul’s Cathedral, where he played for many
great state occasions. He has broadcast
regularly on BBC Radio and has featured on
American Public Media’s Pipedreams. He was
Organ Scholar at King’s College, Cambridge,
graduating with a music degree and twice
accompanying the Festival of Nine Lessons and
Carols, broadcast worldwide. He won First Prize
and the Audience Prize at the 2008 Miami
International Organ Competition and is an
organ tutor to the annual Eton Choral Courses.
Recent solo recital venues include Birmingham
Town Hall, Norwich Cathedral, Kristiansand
Cathedral (Norway) and Hildesheim Cathedral
(Germany). He has also appeared as organ
soloist in John Rutter’s Christmas Celebration
concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. His many recordings include discs for Naxos of choral works by Mendelssohn and William Mathias, and Messiaen’s organ cycles La Nativité du Seigneur and L'Ascension. www.tomwinpenny.org 

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