A “rousing and uplifting” concert

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Review: Hastings Philharmonic Choir, “The Honour of a Jubilee” concert. Saturday, June 16, St Mary-in-the-Castle.

Hastings Philharmonic have given splendid performances over the past year (notably Handel’s “Messiah”) and this increasingly professional-sounding amateur choir sang with impressive balance and sensitivity, using joyful passion in the climaxes and controlled restraint in the more contemplative moments. All the music was played by a baroque orchestra using authentic period instruments.

The evening began with William Boyce’s Symphony no.5 in D major, followed by Handel’s “Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened”, composed for the coronation of George II and combining cheerful, jaunty choruses with slow and solemn sections. Purcell’s “Come, Ye Sons of Art” featured bass solos, a joyful chorus “The Honour of a Jubilee” and a soprano/oboe duet whose harmony was so seamless they sounded at times like a single voice.

Handel’s “The King Shall Rejoice” was sandwiched between three further Purcell works after the interval: Chacony in G minor for strings, the anthem “O Sing unto the Lord a New Song” and the final scene from the opera “Dido and Aeneas”. All in all a hugely enjoyable concert (if the toe and hand tapping in the gallery seats was anything to go by), and a fitting farewell to Hilary Davan Wetton’s four years as musical director.

Dee Williamson