Review - 12 May 2012


Audiences enjoyed an unusual and enterprising programme of choral music sung by Bridgwater Choral Society in St Mary's Church recently.

The music was entirely secular and the opening item, Constant Lambert's "Rio Grande" set the pattern of strong rhythmic singing, with it's Latin-American themes.

The choir was joined for the short solo passages by a young, local contralto, Fran Marshfield, who is just completing her course at the RNCM in Manchester.

The accompaniment was provided by two pianos and a huge selection of percussion instruments needing six players. The pianists, Andrew Hansford, along with music teacher Frances Webb, brought energy and musicianship to the performance. The percussionists, led by Jeremy Little, asdded vivid colour and occasional humour to the music.

A group of three Somerset Folksongs added a sense of fun to the first half.

The main work of the evening was Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana", a unique collection of student songs from mediaeval Germany. The choral society was joined for these by pupils from Chilton Trinity School, and also pupils from two Exeter schools.

There were starring roles for three excellent soloists - Soprano - Charlotte Newstead, Tenor - Paul Smy, and Baritone - Julian Rippon. All were required to perform vocal gymnastics, displaying an enormous range of vocal register rarely required.

The choir sustained our interest with varied ensembles and wide dynamic range and the Conductor, Iain Cooper, is to be congratulated on devising this fascinating programme, whilst controlling the large forces at his disposal to entertain us so well.

Review by: John Bodiley