Review: The Lark Ascending Concert by the St Albans Chamber Choir
9:52 am 23 November 2021
10:35 a.m. on November 23, 2021
Audience member Alan Knott comments on the St Albans Chamber Choir The Lark Ascending concert at St Savior Church on Saturday 13 November.
For the past two years, members of the St Albans Chamber Choir have kept their voices in order, practicing separately and together, in a manner that complies with Covid guidelines and legal requirements.
The success of these efforts has been demonstrated in this performance.
The choir’s musical director, John Gibbons, presented a varied program centered on the solo violinist, Midori Komachi, whose relationship with the choir was exceptional; it seemed like they had been playing together for years.
She excelled in The lark that goes up, in which Vaughan Williams’ well-known orchestral piece was arranged for choir and solo violin by Paul Drayton.
This worked surprisingly well on its own, given the familiarity with the original version.
He demonstrated how the human voice, while not reproducing orchestral sounds, is versatile enough to have a similar effect.
Similar versatility was required of the choir in the work of Cecilia McDowall Everyday Wonders: Aleppo’s Daughter, for which they were joined by Midori Komachi and Susie Arbeid (piano).
This work tells the true story of a young refugee in a wheelchair. It consists of five contrasting sections, each representing a stage in his journey.
As the program note says, “a multitude of musical effects are used to capture the narrative; featuring choruses, rhythmic spoken sections, body percussion and a solo violin part infused with Middle Eastern flavors.
The result was a superb piece of music, superbly performed.
As if to announce their return, the choir began the concert with a fiery yet more conventional unaccompanied interpretation of Rheinberger’s work. Mass in E flat.
This was followed by Ferdinand the Bull, a piece by Alan Ridout for violin (Midori Komachi) and narrator (Susie Arbeid), based on a children’s book. It took a lot of concentration, but the soloists made it easier than it was.
The concert was applauded by a large audience, including many families with children, who were encouraged by the variety of the program and the 2:00 pm start.
It was good to see them and other newbies in the choir concerts, as well as old friends.