SINGERS OF DISTINCTION
Review of Eastbourne Choral Society concert at the Town Hall by Robin Gregory –

Eastbourne Gazette 19 July 2006


When Eastbourne Choral Society presented its plans to perform Mozart’s Requiem on July 8 at the Town Hall those who knew this sublime music wondered if 50 minutes would be rather brief for a full concert. Rumour was rife concerning other items’ and there were whisperings about ‘special’ soloists. In the event, a full house took a chance and was richly rewarded with an imaginative all-Mozart programme which well repaid its willingness to take things on trust. Several secret weapons were revealed by the programme. Locally-based international baritone Jozik Koc was joined by three of the Royal Academy’s most vocally-distinguished graduates, all of them sponsored for this concert by the Richard Lewis/Jean Shanks Trust.
Since Elizabeth Muir-Lewis passed the conductor’s baton to John Hancorn, her influence has made it possible for Eastbourne to enjoy singers of such distinction and promise. And, in this concert, John Hancorn brought his own expertise as a singer to bear on large forces performing with passion and discipline.
The first three minutes (Ave Verum Corpus) showed what we were to enjoy as the Eastbourne Choral Society’s tonal balance was perfect from the first bar. Then the strings of the Eastbourne Players led by Sofia Bartlette gave Eine Kleine Natchmusik so spirited a performance that they had to wait for spontaneous applause between the movements.
Then it was time to unleash three of the singer soloists to excerpts from The Magic Flute. Jozik Koc charmed the birds from the trees, Allan Clayton looked enraptured upon his beloved’s image and Kishani Jayasinghe was both soloist and duettist. This was singing of real distinction. Kishani was the soloist in Laudate Dominum, soaring above chorus and orchestra and organ with an ease which might have justified a slower tempo. After the interval the Requiem Mass. And in this passionate performance we were indeed able to lose ourselves in the glory of the music. The soloists have few individual moments but are required to show individual brilliance while listening to their fellows. This was as good a quartet as you d hear anywhere now with the notable contribution of alto Lucie Spickova who recently won the Elena Gerhardt Lieder Prize at the Royal Academy. Conductor, organist Nick Houghton, choir and orchestra rose to the occasion, sending an appreciative audience home moved and uplifted by Mozart’s last composition.

 

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