The choir of St.Mary’s Cathedral gave an eclectic performance of pieces by recent composer Gabriel Jackson along with some more traditional choral songs in this stunning setting. They moved through a varied assortment of tunes. Taverner’s Dum transisset Sabbatum, which opened the concert, had bright tones and layered harmonies accentuated by the brilliant acoustics of the Cathedral. Tippett’s Magnificat stood out with operatic sounds and clashing unison. It was a mesmerising performance allowing the audience to sit back and become enveloped in the music.
There were two renditions of Ave Maria; Stravinsky’s short but sweet composition lightened the atmosphere while Bruckner’s showcased the skill of the choir as they flowed through the sustained phrases and created a comforting cloak of sound around the audience. Singing a variety of Gabriel’s compositions, the choir ably performed the textured harmonies and changeable moods of Vidi Aquam as well as the Hymn to St. Margaret of Scotland with its demanding time changes. The organ solo Southwark Symphonies, also composed by Gabriel and performed by organist Nicholas Wearne, was unfortunately less inviting to listen to as it combined scatty and clashing notes with modern influences on timing and chords.
The pieces showed off each section of the talented choir as well as their proficiency at singing in unison; the evening was enjoyable and managed not to drag as so many choral concerts tend to do. With a perfectly balanced range of songs, the choir, conducted by Duncan Ferguson, made light of the demanding choices and did justice to a beautiful array of music.