For many of us the last we had anything to do with a choir was when we were at school. So to remind, choral music is where the most magical instrument, the human voice itself is used. The 4 main parts of the choir are male (basses and tenors) and female (altos and sopranos). Put all these voices in the right acoustic surroundings of a large church and you get a truly magnificent and beautiful sound echoing around. This was exactly what the Imperial Medics Music Society were doing last night. The flavour of their performance was a selection of pieces ranging from Handel, Vivaldi to William Byrd.
The Imperial Medics Chamber Choir, conducted by their director Surjo De started the evening off in gracious style. Giocchino Rossini?s "O Salutaris Hostia", was a confident and assertive opener. People familiar with Rossini?s operatic work would also know his "Barber of Seville". The other two pieces were by English composers, the first ones being Stanford?s "Magnificent" and "Nun Dimittis in G, Op. 81" which were followed by William Byrd?s "Haec Dies". For Stanford?s pieces both soloists were very impressive with the soprano tearing across the church effortlessly and the bass soloist enveloping the vast space with his solo spot. Both soloists pretty much set the standard of the solos to come later on in the evening. William Byrd's piece had a vast number of notes at times keeping the listeners curious to the changes of movements. The 16 member chamber choir was quite impressive in filling the church up with the beautiful pieces.
The full Medics Choir were on next. Conducted by Timothy Wills, Vivaldi?s everpopular "Gloria" was performed. Vivaldi is of course famous for "Four Seasons" even to those unfamiliar with choral music. The opening of the piece can be heard in several ads and has even made and even all the way to phone ringtones. "Gloria" kicked in fast, bright and happy with loads of grand majesty. As the entire piece progressed, the audience was treated to tons of dynamics, starting from the happy, almost hyper excited opener to going in and out of bright and sullen motions with intimate solo moments in-between.
The final performance by the choir was a selection of pieces from Handel?s "Messiah" conducted by Johanna Paterson. Handel is known to write pieces that basically rock with his upbeat style and at times whacky choice of words. This particular selection was great in that it had a bit of everything, a nice symphony overture, solos from each voice and possibly the most famous chorus ever written, "Hallelujah". Particularly fun was the happy and sweet sound of the trumpet in the penultimate piece which was complimented by a bass soloist. The choir ended in style with "Hallelujah" with a standing audience, a tradition started off by King George II who?s rumoured to have got up startled when "Hallelujah" came up. After their performance at the end, the choir asked everyone to sing along to "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" to celebrate England?s Rugby victory in the day, the audience, of course, totally loved this and were glad to celebrate this feat together.
All in all it was a very firm and confident performance given from both choirs and given that the choir, conductors, soloists and orchestra are all students this is quite outstanding. However, the soprano dominance in the choir was obvious at times, which is probably just due to numbers. Full marks to the society for bringing a nice warmth inside the church with their pieces on a rainy and victorious day.