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Live! - Culture

Passionate Music

Mar 30 2003 17:16
Nia Stevens
End of Term Chillout: St John?s Passion and A Selection of English Music from Imperial College Choir and Chamber Choir
Imperial College Chamber Choir perform in Holy Trinity Church. Photo: Simon Pascoe

IC Chamber Choir - A selection of English music

A light and charming selection of short pieces music performed by IC Chamber Choir made for a very pleasant evening?s relaxation near the end of term. Contrasting with the old favourites and ever pretty pieces such as Purcell?s Hear My Prayer and Gibbons?s The Silver Swan were good performances of very tricky discordant and utterly heavenly pieces such as Tavener?s The Lamb and Macmillan?s Changed. The choir also seemed to be enjoying the concert, particularly during their lusty renditions of folk songs such as Finzi?s My Spirit Sang all Day and Sigh No More Oh Ladies by Emma Lou Diemer.

The concert started off in surround sound with the choir standing in two rows either side of the audience to sing the round When Jesus Wept by Billings. This approach was extended for Stanford?s Three Motets with the first, Justorum Animae being performed from the back of the Holy Trinity Church. Coelos Ascendit Hodie was performed with the two choirs ?shouting? over the audience at each other in fitting with the piece?s lively ?question and answer? style phrases before the choir were reunited in front of the altar for the more homogenous, gentle (and gorgeous!) Beati Quorum Via. Whilst the movement described above added interest and definitely enhanced the concert, I did however feel that the frequent movement between in and out choir stalls for different pieces during the remainder of the concert were unnecessary and slightly distracting.

Special mention should go the performance of Tippet?s Spirituals from A Child of Our Time since they included a number of solos that further served to show that the choir includes a number of very fine voices and adept singers. The sound quality of the choir as a whole is very good and overall, technically sound and in tune if only somewhat ?untidy? in places. Overall an enjoyable concert.

IC Choir - St John's Passion, Bach

?So what?s the difference between IC choir and IC Chamber Choir?? I hear some of you ask. Well a chamber choir is generally a smaller choir (fits in a chamber :-)). IC Chamber Choir comprises 35 out of the 150-odd that sing with IC Choir. There also tends to be a difference in the type of music they perform. Chamber Choirs tend to perform lighter shorter pieces and are less likely to perform the big choral works that a larger choirs perform. Of course, having said that there are very many exceptions to this ?rule?. But I digress??.

Bach?s St John?s Passion tells, if you hadn?t guessed, the Easter Story according to the gospel of John. Almost an opera (has in fact been performed as one by ENO), it includes solos performed by characters such as Pilate, Jesus, Peter as well as the obligatory generic Sop, Alto, Tenor, Bass solos. The mixture of student and professional soloists made a very nice combination. I personally would have like to have seen more use made of student soloists although of course, I did very much enjoy listening (in utter joy and jealousy) to the wonderful professionals. Bach has very considerately written some extremely lovely moments into the piece and the choir?s commitment and empathy for the music they were singing made for a pleasing performance.

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Discussion about “Passionate Music”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Mar 31 2003 10:24

Thanks for your great reviews, Nia!

If anyone is interested in joining the choir (no audition req'd), you can find out more information from: the ICU Choir website, or .

We are performing Rachmaninow's Vespers next term, and the concert is on Friday, 13th June.

Mar 31 2003 10:50

I trust it has been put in the events calendar...

3. Atul   
Mar 31 2003 14:17

Yeah excellent reviews, pity I missed out on the Chamber Choir concert.

Mr. Editor...running a bit low on events eh..

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