A Choral Evening at the Barbican

As a school concert it was definitely at the swept up end of the scale, in the concert hall of the Barbican.  So large was the chorus, made up of the Westminster School choir and the Westminster Choral Society, and the school orchestra, that the stage was extended into the auditorium.

Even though I was slightly to the side, and so could only really see the backs of the double bass players. and wasn’t able to indulge in my usual pleasure of studying the extremes of facial expressions usually worn by musicians as they play, the massed ranks of the choir still gave me plenty to look at.

I’ve never before seen a school choir and orchestra which also includes a large number of adults – I understand in the orchestra they are teachers, and that the choral society includes anyone with a connection to the school.  I pushed aside the thought that this was somehow a little bit of a ‘cheat’, when I heard the decent tone of the playing and the singing.  It also gave a far greater feeling of community to the enterprise, a mixing together of the generations and a sort of egalitarianism, no matter how transient.

There is something tremendous in the community of effort and attention in any choir, a group of disparate people joined together to one aim, to produce a co-ordinated and harmonious sound.  And this one produced a luscious big noise when they were going full pelt.

I’m told the Choral Society performs once annually, near Easter, a Requiem; and this year it was Brahms.  In the quiet sections there was a calm intensity to them all, and then, when energy was needed, for the emphatic passionate passages, all the heads bobbed and a wave of energy sent the libtrettos that each of them held cascading along each row.

Two soloists completed the ensemble.  Patricia Rozario, in a beautiful sari, has a such a mellifluous voice, rising effortlessly above the sounds of all the people around her.  I couldn’t help but wonder if it isn’t a bit of a risk for a professional singer to perform with a school ensemble?  Not that this performance didn’t go very well, but is there an extra little edge of anxiety in that moment before walking onto the platform in these circumstances?

Or am I just making up stories again?

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