Classical music, Music, News, Reviews

An uplifting lunch break

Review: Concerts at One: Prendiville Catholic College –
St George’s Cathedral, 30 August 2017 –
Review by Leon Levy –

This fine series seems to be attracting a growing audience, and today’s recital by the accomplished musicians of Prendiville Catholic College maintained the high standards that have been on display this year.

‘An airy treble’: Sanders Greenwood with Prendiville College Choir.

Karl Jenkins’s “Adiemus” provided an arresting opening, the building momentum well caught by the soloists and full choir. Howard Goodall is another composer to have struck a chord with the public, most popularly via television theme tunes. His choral setting of Psalm 23, a perfect frame to The Vicar of Dibley, was led by Sanders Greenwood whose airy treble nicely reflected the pastoral allusions of the psalm.

Brendan Arbuckle demonstrated cool confidence in the Andante from Haydn’s second Trumpet Concerto, as did the Flute Ensemble in “Zig Zag Zoo” by flautist and composer, Ian Clarke, meeting with aplomb his rather quirky demands for rapid switching from the instrument to vocalising. Drum accompaniment by Dylan Holden was sensitive to the small ensemble and enhanced the impact of the work.

Cool confidence: The Flute Ensemble playing ‘Zig Zag Zoo’.

In “Feeling Good”, one almost felt sorry for Jessica Mullins that her traditional school uniform was so at odds with this bluesy number by Newley and Bricusse. But once out of the lower end of the vocal range, her voice took flight and erased such incidental distractions: beautifully executed and beautifully concluded. It might well have been awkward to follow such a distinctive mood, but the Prendiville Saxophone Quartet sound made for a neat segue, with the upper and lower voices expertly and impressively integrated in their two contrasting pieces.

With John Rutter’s “For the Beauty of the Earth” and “This Little Babe” from Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, we were assuredly back on spiritual terra firma. Both pieces were finely executed by the Girls’ Vocal Ensemble, the second of the two especially representing a considerable challenge that was securely and confidently met.

Rhys Isaac then managed the sharp but pleasing contrast in his assured performance of Debussy’s “Claire de Lune”, despite the emergence of an unwritten part for unmuted audience coughing that did not unsettle the commendable poise of the pianist.

Finally, it was back to the full choir for two contemporary songs, each effectively fronted by a small group of soloists, bringing a satisfyingly varied recital to an impressive conclusion. The high performance standards achieved by the college musicians are a tribute both to them and to the music staff, of whom choir director Anne-Marie Duce played a visible guiding role on this occasion, as did hard-working accompanist David Hicks.

The Cathedral was well-filled for the concert but not, by the look of things, by those who work in the city and who could have been eating a sandwich (– permitted! –) while at the same time enjoying 45 minutes of head-clearing uplift.

Pictured top: The Prendiville Saxophone Quartet – upper and lower voices expertly and impressively integrated.

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