Alresford Community Choir excelled and raised over £3,000 for the Murray Parish Trust #2MillionSteps appeal
On Sunday April 2nd 2017, Alresford Community Choir performed George Frideric Handel’s Messiah to a sell out audience. Their performance matched that of the professional soloists and orchestra in all respects. This was a fresh and vital performance of which every member of the choir, and its director, should all be proud. The audience of 400 showed its appreciation with a well-deserved five-minute standing ovation.
The great success of this concert raised over £3,000, which with matched funding became nearly £12,000, for the Murray Parish Trust #2MillionSteps Appeal.
The concert took place at the St. Swithun’s School Harvey Hall Performing Arts Centre, with recitative solos and arias performed by professionals Erica Eloff (Soprano), Amy Williams (Mezzo-soprano), William Wallace (Tenor) and Ed Hawkins (Bass), and accompanied by the renowned Hanover Band.
2017 marks the fifth anniversary of ACC, during which time the choir has grown from around 60 members to over 130 and from ‘just another community’ choir to one that has reached a highly professional level of performance, under the directorship of Keith Clark. The choir excelled on Sunday evening with its performance of Messiah. On cue and clear with every entry and ending, singing with rhythmic accuracy and wonderful tone, phrasing, and dynamics, the choir’s delivery was of the highest standard. In this work, always considered to be a popular but nevertheless still a challenging choice for choirs, ACC proved that it could meet that challenge and in so doing surpass any performance it has given within its five-year existence. All sections of the choir delivered with the same precision and clarity, their harmonies and expression matched by the orchestra’s stunning accompaniment, interspersed so well with the professional solo arias and recitatives beautifully performed by all four professionals.
The oratorio was, on this occasion, taken from the Bärenreiter Urtext edition of Messiah, encompassing the three parts from the prophecy of His coming to the redemption of mankind. From the first few opening bars by the Hanover Band, led by Theresa Caudle, it was evident we were in for a wonderful evening. Erica Eloff’s soprano recitatives and arias were performed with such vocal strength and clarity, yet with control and sensitivity responding to the mood and context of the text, while the interpretation of “He was despised …” by mezzo-soprano Amy Williamson was sensitively dramatic and heartfelt. William Wallace’s commanding presence in every recitative and aria showed why he was the 2016 winner of the prestigious London Handel Prize - truly wonderful. The amazing timbre of Ed Hawkins’ wonderful voice gave great expressive dramatic quality to the bass arias and recitatives, in “The trumpet shall sound …” we were further entranced as Ed was accompanied by the superb playing of Robert Farley, probably the world’s greatest exponent of natural trumpet.
The performance of Alresford Community Choir matched that of the professional soloists and orchestra in all respects. This was a fresh and vital performance of which every member of the choir, and its director, should all be proud. The audience of 400 showed its appreciation with a well-deserved five-minute standing ovation.
The Hanover Band was formed in London by Caroline Brown in March 1980. The orchestra has an international reputation for the excellence of its performances and recordings of 18th and 19th century music, its players are some of the best in their field. It performs, records and undertakes education work regularly in the UK and has toured throughout Europe, USA (East and West) Canada and Mexico, appearing in prestigious festivals and venues such as the Haydnfest, Eisenstadt Austria, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, De Doelen Rotterdam, Berlin Philharmoniesaal, Cadogan Hall, Royal Albert Hall, London (BBC Proms), Usher Hall, Edinburgh and Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, Carnegie Hall & Lincoln Center New York, Harvard, Princeton Universities and UCLA Los Angeles, USA.
Over the last few years, soprano Erica Eloff has steadily built her career on the concert platform to become a sought after soloist and recitalist. Praised in the media for her vocal authority and technical control, and a voice that is bright and well-produced across its range with great power at the top, she is a passionate and deeply musical performer.
English Mezzo-Soprano, Amy Williamson, graduated from the Royal College of Music where she was the Midori Nishiura Scholar, having studied under Janis Kelly and Christopher Glynn. Whilst there she received awards from the Josephine Baker Trust, the MBF, and won the Joyce Budd Prize at the Junior Kathleen Ferrier Awards, the Rosemary Haines Award, the Alice Templeton Award, and the Alfred Alexander Prize.
Born in London in 1980, Ed studied trumpet and piano as a child, going on to read music at King’s College, London, studying trumpet at the Royal Academy of Music with Iaan Wilson. After graduating in 2001, Ed began working as a freelance musician with various orchestras and small ensembles, and in recording studios across the UK.
by Alexander L'Estrange
2017 was a 'vintage' year for Alresford Community Choir. In addition to our sell-out Carol and Messiah concerts, we performed the witty Song Cycle, written and conducted by our honorary president, Alexander L'Estrange and accompanied by his band, The 'Call Me Al' Quintet.
This is the third of Alexander L'Estrange's works to be performed by the choir and each one has been a joy. Peppered with breaths of traditional tunes, Alexander's playful use of words and beautifully crafted melodies, in turn jubilant and evocative, ensured that a wonderful evening was enjoyed by choirs and audience alike.
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