An Evocative Afternoon Of French Choral Music

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An audience of music students, professors, friends and more filled the University’s Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall last Friday in support of the School of Music choirs, directed by Bryan White. Made up of singers from various years of studies, the choirs filled the hall with their voices, as they brought the audience on a journey to discover French choral music of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It also featured a fine range of young soloists and two talented pianists, Gwenno Morgan and Rebekah Wetherby.

The programme featured some of the most significant composers of this period, such as Debussy and Poulenc, but also shed light on French composers who are little known and performed in the UK. The women’s choir, who took the stage first, did just that with their presentation of Vincent D’indy’s virtuosic ‘Sur La Mer’. With its rich text and harmonies, the women painted a scene of the misty sea, but a pink glow slowly appears as the song progresses. With a majestic opening of their voices moving towards a fortissimo with soloist Imogen Creedy, a grand sunrise emerged and the voices of the women rang through the hall as they sang about the great Sun.

The mixed choir did not fall short either with their diverse repertoire. Gabriel Fauré’s ‘Cantique de Jean Racine’ was wonderfully performed by them, with the sweet voices of the women and resonant voices of the men blending together to bring out the long sweeping melodies and strong harmonic appoggiaturas in this beautiful piece. Their performance even received a “Bravo!” from an audience member.

Overall, the concert was definitely successful in showcasing the talents of these students and their hard work leading up to it. Moreover, the audience walked out of the hall with a greater understanding of French choral music, poetry, and the evocative scenes and stories told by the music created by the choirs.

Stephanie Boon

Header Image Credit The Spectator