A sell-out audience, graced by the presence of noted music enthusiast, the Mayor of Winchester Angela Clear, were privileged to enjoy an outstanding concert on Saturday May 27 in the Harvey Hall, St Swithun’s School. 

The massed choirs of Alresford Community Choir, Barton Stacey Chamber Choir and Whitchurch Singing for Fun combined with the unique Hanover Band to offer two of the finest masterpieces in the choral repertoire. 

A delightful amuse-bouche of Mozart’s Serenade No.13 in G Major of 1787 opened the evening’s entertainment with the Hanover Band on instruments appropriate for the period, led by their first violin, Julia Khan. 

More commonly known as Eine kleine Nachtmusik, we were treated to a brilliantly spirited Allegro; sadly, time permitted only the first movement, but we were able to sample the inimitable tones of a chamber orchestra of the time of the composition. 

Next onto the rostrum came Kate Chapman-Sarnicki to conduct Vivaldi’s well-known Gloria of 1708, with the combined choirs of one hundred and forty-eight voices impeccably balanced between themselves and with the accompanying orchestra.

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Annunciation and meticulous observance of dynamics ensured we could clearly hear every instrument and voice in perfect harmony.

After the interval we were treated to a definitive performance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Requiem, which was finished from sketches after his untimely death by one of his pupils, Franz Süssmayr. Conducted by the indomitable Keith Clark, and joined by notable stellar soloists Anna Sideris, Amy Williamson, Oliver Johnston and Joe Chalmers with the Hanover Band’s augmented range of now rare period instruments, we were immediately aware of what was going to be a performance of the highest excellence. 

You could hear every word so clearly from the choir, particularly the sustaining notes and ending consonants perfectly in time. The contributions of all the Band’s players perfectly adding to the period atmosphere were delightfully distinctive in their own ways. It would be invidious to pick out individuals, but the Basset horns and real ‘kettle drums’ were particular highlights for me. 

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The soloists combined with an amazing empathy and concise sense of balance. Where traditionally in all choirs the lower chorus parts tend to wallow when they enter in canonical fashion, Keith would have none of it and with his extra encouragement he maintained the brisk a tempo as it should be. 

The audience, having been politely but justifiably requested not to applaud between movements to maintain the continuity of the work, were completely overwhelmed by the emotion of the piece that after the very last notes of the Lux Aeterna, complete silence for a few seconds was followed by an appreciative and enthusiastic ovation, richly deserved.

Look out for the three choirs’ next concerts which will undoubtedly reward your interest with enthralling musicianship of the highest calibre. Better still, why not consider joining in yourselves for the most fulfilling of social experiences? Search their respective websites for details.

Review contributed