Reviews.

Elijah

Reviewed by Patrick Shephard

7th September 2013

My relationship with the Jubilate Singers goes back a long way and it amazes me how a group of amateurs can repeatedly turn out professional performances. Having suffered several choral society renditions of Mendelssohn's warhorse Elijah as player, singer and audience- member back in Britain, I attended with some trepidation. I need not have worried.

Conductor Grant Hutchinson directed an outstanding evening of music, having put together a first- rate lineup of soloists, a composite choir and a scratch orchestra that gelled perfectly and left me with a completely new take on this work. With the repositioning of the angels and seraphims behind the audience there was a little bit of theatre in there, too. For the record, I found the venue acoustically very satisfying.

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Pathways

Reviewed by Philip Norman

14th April 2013

With a programme filled to the gunwales with death, destruction and the devil, “Pathways” ought to have been a doom-monger’s delight. Yet, there was too much to be cheerful about for this to occur, particularly a buoyant Jubilate Singers delivering a cluster of challenging contemporary pieces with panache.

Not that the performances of Rautavaara’s “Suite de Lorca”, Eric Whitacre’s “When David Heard” and Joby Talbot’s “Roncesvalles” from “Path of Miracles” were without blemish, for the mercilessly angular lines in the Whitacre and Talbot pieces occasionally stretched techniques. To the singers’ credit, their delivery was sufficiently intense for rough patches to pass as individual inflections, compatible with the rawness of emotion in the texts.

Beautiful, controlled sounds characterised the simpler homophonic settings, in particular the muted opening to “When David Heard”, and the trademark Whitacre piles-up of sound that coloured the texture. The opening processional, “Hanacpachap Cussicuinin” an early Peruvian homage to the Virgin Mary, also displayed great beauty of choral tone and a commendable degree of ensemble cohesion.

Other sprays of cheer included the high fidelity of Barry Brinson’s electronic chamber organ and the super-lunary tones of Jonathan Le Cocq’s baroque guitar. This latter instrument, looking like a ukulele on steroids but sounding like a guitar on a respirator, was delightfully finger-picked, strummed, rolled and slapped by Le Cocq in two Iberian offerings – “Canario” and “Terantela, an elaborate fantasy on an anonymous Portugese theme.

In a programme marked by textural and timbral variation, oboist Ian Thorpe presented “Gabriel’s Oboe” from the 1986 film “The Mission”, and counter tenor Christopher Warwick showed sufficient technique to traverse both the opening 16th century polyphony and Talbot’s contemporary lines with style. Compliments also to additional soloists from the choir, Denis Guyan, Regan Gardner, Sarah Stevenson and Nathan Mehrtens, the latter in particular for reaching deep in his register to negotiate “Suite de Lorca” and complete the “Path of Miracles”.

Final word belongs to the director Grant Hutchinson, who devised this successful and colourful programme, and conducted to pleasing effect. A vibrant performance of “Sanctus” by Christchurch composer Richard Oswin rounded out the programme on a celebratory note.

Monteverdi Vespers

Reviewed by John Pattinson

8th October 2012

Congratulations on Saturday’s performance,- it was superb, and one of which you can be justly proud. It was great to see the choir enjoying themselves so evidently, a sure sign that they were on top of the work and able to give it their all. Particularly thrilling were the final choruses in Parts I & II.

Monteverdi Vespers

Reviewed by Christchurch Press

8th October 2012

“Thrilling Baroque Music" – David Sell

The Jubilate Singers can be relied on to give a performance of interest. But I didn’t expect one as consistently polished and exciting as they gave on this occasion.

The Vespers is the biggest sacred work up to that time. This, and the fact that it is neither renaissance nor baroque, yet both, presents unique challenges.

It is not often I can apply the term “exciting” to a local performance of early music, but this was as gripping as similar music I have heard in the great baroque centres of Italy and Austria.

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