A memorable show from choral society

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Battle Choral Society performs Bach B minor Mass, Christchurch, St Leonards, Saturday, May 18.

A big church, a big choir, a big audience, a vastly experienced conductor, a quartet of noted soloists, a professional orchestra giving its all, what more could one want?

Almost every seat in this capacious building was occupied, proof indeed that Battle Choral’s fame extends far beyond the confines of their home territory.

Much of course of this results from the dedication of Director John Langridge, whose meticulous attention to detail, allied with constant encouragement during rehearsals, must have sustained even the doubters amongst them.

The work, in the original Latin, followed the sequence of the Catholic Mass, and the English Holy Communion. Missa (the Latin word for Mass) was sung by the choir with solo by soprano Grace Constable.

The second much longer sequence was a paeon of praise followed by a further soprano solo, a duet for soprano and tenor Gary Marriott with flute solo by Lynne Garrick, a moving solo by mezzo-soprano Louise Winter, and robust bass solo by Michael White, before the spirited finale by choir and orchestra to Part One.

The affirmation of faith which opened Part Two, Credo (I believe) revealed the choir in contemplative mood, with a duet by Grace and Gary leading to the account of the Crucifixion and Resurrection, the ascent into Heaven being related in vibrant fashion by Michael White.

The Sanctus, one of the principal components of the Mass, was the responsibility of the choir with the hymn of praise the Osanna (Hosanna) followed by the Benedictus by Gary, the Agnus Dei ( Lamb of God) by Louise, with the Choir again joining the soloists for the finale.

The applause which greeted the final moments of the work was indicative of the audience’s wholehearted approval of every aspect of the performance, the impeccable contributions by every one of the soloists, the dedication of the choir members in response to John’s direction throughout this long and difficult work complementing the expertise of the orchestra under its leader Pat Beament, with Duncan Reid at the keyboard of the harpsichord and Nigel Howard on organ all combining under the baton of indefatigable John Langridge to make the performance of this monumental work truly an evening to remember.

Review by Marrion Wells.