Handel’s Messiah by the Haverhill Choral Society at All Saint’s Church, Hundon
There was a forecast of stormy weather. The choir and orchestra were arranged before the huge front window, adding an impressive and dramatic backdrop to what would turn out to be a memorable performance.
It was one which made us, the audience, forget the weather and be warmed for its 130 minutes by enthusiastic singing and playing, conducted by their musical director, Jane Wright, with great authority and sympathy for its various tempi and colours.
The choir does suffer from the imbalance between male and female singers.
There are only 16 sopranos and 18 altos set against only seven tenors and seven basses, but the vigorous playing by the cello and double bass section of the orchestra underpinned the male voices effectively.
Special mention must go to the soloists, with the soprano, Penny Manser, enunciating, ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth’ with great clarity and emotion and the alto, Elaine Henson, bringing gravity and texture to ‘He was despised and rejected of men.’
The pastoral ‘Sinfonia’ that opened the programme at a delightful Allegro Moderato pace was followed by the accomplished, limpid tenor, Nicholas Bewes and ‘Comfort ye my people’ and ‘Every valley.
The baritone Nick Fowler coped manfully with the bass part and added depth and menace to ‘For behold, darkness shall cover the earth’ and imparted due incredulity to ‘Why to the nations rage so furiously together’.
Mention must go to the bell-like clarity of the trumpet soloist in ‘The trumpet shall sound’ and to the harpsichord, built by Alan Attlesey, a member of the chorus and played with considerable sympathy by Nigel Brown.
As we stood to join the Chorus in ‘Hallelujah’ the heavens opened on to the now leadless roof and the tempest rocked the tree branches silhouetted against the huge window. How fitting.
The society’s next concert will be an evening of Gilbert & Sullivan at Haverhill Arts Centre on Sunday, April 17 at 7.30pm.
Rehearsals start on Monday, January 11 at 7.30pm in the drama studio at Samuel Ward Academy, when new members would be welcome, Call 01440 786615 for details.