Elegy - Anita D'Attellis
Cantique de Jean Racine
Sky Lark - Anita D'Attellis
Cherubic Hymn Number 7
Sir Karl Jenkins
Aliquando’s concerts are always a pleasure to attend — the programmes being varied, well-chosen and professionally presented. Music by Monteverdi, Rachmaninov, Fauré, Glinka and Bortniansky comprised the first half of the programme. Sir Karl Jenkins’ Stabat Mater occupied the rest.
From the outset, Monteverdi’s Beatus Vir brought out all that is best about Aliquando. It is a small choir, beautifully balanced, with more than its fair share of exquisite voices. This motet was sung in Latin; the first of several languages with which the choir delighted us during the evening.
Pablo Casals’ Nigra Sum followed in a very effective arrangement specially made for Aliquando by the choir’s accomplished pianist, Anita D’Attellis, who also contributed two piano solos.
Her interpretation of Glinka’s Sky Lark was one of the concert’s many highlights. Miss D’Attellis wisely played down the heavy virtuosic potential of the piece in favour of a brilliantly executed, fleeting impression of a skylark on a fine summer’s day. The audience loved it.
Having given due reverence to Rachmaninov’s moving Bogorditse Dyevo in Russian and Fauré’s Cantique de Jean Racine in impeccable French, the choir closed the first half of the programme with Bortniansky’s telling Cherubic Hymn No 7 sung in Church Slavonic.
Their thirst for foreign languages seems endless — and any difficulties that this may pose for the singers are not apparent.
After a truly sumptuous feast of mouth-watering delicacies donated by six local suppliers and wine, the audience settled down to hear Sir Karl Jenkins’ substantial Stabat Mater. This work could be criticised for its tendency towards repetition, but its individual movements have much to offer in beauty, effectiveness and originality.
The unusual percussion section, featuring several ancient instruments, was on top form, playing with immaculate precision, consistency and with a telling presence that was never intrusive.
The sensation of the evening was provided by Belinda Sykes, a versatile musician with special expertise in historical and folk music traditions from around the world. She stunned the audience with her Incantation from the Stabat Mater, accompanying herself on the mey (an ancient double-reeded wind instrument) she intoned the call to prayer in Aramaic.
Her semi-improvised appeal, sung from the heart was awesome, touching and induced a total stillness in the church for what seemed like a very long time.
It was a cry of utter desolation — sad, strangely beautiful and unforgettable.
John Burleigh - Henley Standard
"What a wonderful, wonderful sound Aliquando Choir make
"Perfect intonation, beautiful phrasing and the consistent ability to enunciate the words clearly but gently in the pianissimo passages.."
John Burleigh, Henley Standard
May 18 2019
'A Spring Serenade'
Come Gentle Spring If Music be the Food of Love
An Eriskay Love Lilt
I know a Bank
It was a Lover and his Lass
The Lark in the Clear Air
Coming through the Craigs
The Frog and the Crow
When Love is Kind
Old Father Thames
The Lass of Richmond Hill
My Grandfather’s Clock’
‘From a Distance’
Let the River Run
The Spring Serenade' concert was advertised as “full of interesting, fun and melodic music fit for a warm May evening with refreshments and canapes!” Well it certainly lived up to its billing with 18 songs delivered with brilliant and often complex harmonies, coached expertly by Musical Director Anne Evans. Piano accompanist Joanna Miller-Shepherd played with great sensitivity and skill, whilst the Raconteur Martyn Read cleverly linked each piece with interesting anecdotes as well as introductions.
The concert opened fittingly with “Come gentle spring” an excerpt from Joseph Haydn’s “The seasons” showing the full choir in glorious harmony. This was followed by a delightful rendering of “If music be the food of love” by Henry Heveningham. The Shakespearean theme continued with “I know a bank whereon the wild thyme grows” composed by Charles Horn. It was sung in two parts by four sopranos to a piano accompaniment that had a delightfully delicate, almost operatic feel. At this stage the audience really showed their obvious enjoyment and appreciation of what was to come. The first half then raced through Gilbert and Sullivan, Thomas Morely and traditional Scottish and English songs, including the hauntingly melodic Scarborough Fair.
Intervals are rarely commented on in reviews, but Aliquando choir members re-appeared serving generous quantities of delicious homemade canapes supported by a friendly bar service that is the hallmark of their ever-popular concerts.
The 2nd half opened with literally a change of scene where the Christ Church centre’s stage was transformed into a Victorian parlour room, complete with aspidistra. A series of tableau scenes followed. Selections of the choir performed a series of more traditional melodies with the remaining members of the choir acting as onlookers; reacting with a range of poses, emotions and enjoyment to the songs performed. This clever device greatly enriched the sense of spectacle for the ever enthusiastic audience.
Highlights from the 2nd half include the triumphantly comic “Bold Gendarmes” sung by Martyn Griffiths and Dan Evans, and a powerful Bass solo by David Banbury “Old Father Thames” that captivated the audience. Dan Evans performed again with a thrilling solo rendition of Elvis Costello’s love song “She” ending with a surprising dedication of love to the Music Director, Anne. Several members of the audience and also of the cast were visibly overcome with the emotion of the moment. The Victorian period’s sensibilities of morality were not offended when it transpired that Dan and Anne are actually husband and wife.
David Banbury’s theatrical singing of “My Grandfather’s Clock” ensured full audience participation. The concert ended with the full choir performing “From a Distance”, immortalised by Bette Midler, followed by Carly Simon’s “Let the River Run” to rapturous applause.
Aliquando’s motto is “Good music for good causes”. Anne Evans closed the night by reminding the audience that all the monies raised were given to worthy charities. Over £9,000 was raised in last year’s Remembrance concert for the Royal British Legion. On this occasion The Henley Music School benefited from a generous retiring collection. An appeal was given for the public to further their support by becoming a Friend of Aliquando, details from firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments made within the departing happy audience confirmed that this was indeed Aliquando’s most enjoyable concert ever!