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2015 Spring Concert

Saturday 25th April 2015; 7.45pm; St. Helier Methodist Centre

The Messiah by G.F. Handel with guest conductor Jonathan Willcocks, returning soloist Mark Le Brocq, tenor,  joined by bass Matthew Durkan and local singers Gabriella Cassidy, soprano, and Georgia Mae Bishop, alto. Also performing were Malcolm Whittell on Keyboard Continuo, Emmanuelle Dumas on Cello Continuo and Luke Brown on Solo Trumpet

A review of the evening supplied by Imogen Nicholls

"It is always with an element of excitement that one takes one’s seat in the audience for a performance of Handel’s Messiah but an underlying nervousness too: the work is a ‘tour de force’ and should the resources not be up to the job, it can be a very long evening with no prospect of escape for at least 90 minutes.

From the first few bars of the overture however, it was obvious that this was not going to be the case in the Jersey Festival Choir’s performance on Saturday evening at the St Helier Methodist Centre.

From the opening bars and under the baton, of conductor Jonathon Willcocks, the Jersey Festival Orchestra began as it went on with controlled and expressive string playing over the continuo that never flagged throughout the evening.  Complemented as the string playing was by the rich, expressive sound from the oboe and bassoon, I settled comfortably in my seat to enjoy their playing.

The Messiah is a big sing for the four soloists, each having several technically diverse and demanding arias throughout the evening.  Tenor, Mark Le Brocq set the standard for them all with a soaring and near perfect opening rendition of ‘Comfort Ye My People’.  His stretchy, seemingly effortless vocal line over the staccato strings was compelling from the start and with each new aria, and particularly the narrative in Part 2, we understood why he is in such demand as a soloist in the opera houses of Great Britain.

Of the four young professional soloists, three were from the island which is a remarkable feat for a small community.  Soprano Gabriella Cassidy is well known to local audiences and, in her first ever Messiah, her arias did not disappoint. The exciting coloratura of ‘Rejoice Greatly’ gave way to an elegant and sincere ‘I Know That My Redeemer Liveth’.  Gabriella’s phrasing and control were exquisite and her voice spine tingling.

Georgia Mae Bishop too, singing her first Messiah, gave an outstanding performance, showcasing in each aria different facets of her extraordinary musicianship and exceptional voice. The maturity of her understated but beautiful performance of ‘He Was despised’ belies her 22 years.

Seldom do we hear a bass voice as good as that of Mathew Durkan, who studies with Denis O’Neil at the Welsh International Academy of Voice.  Again, his arias were outstanding. These young singers have great futures before them and it was thrilling to hear them.

However good the soloists, any performance of Handel’s Messiah stands or falls on the quality of the choir - and the Jersey Festival Choir were in top form.  With over 20 choruses to get through there were no signs of flagging in either the tuning, the quality of sound or in some of the long coloratura passages.  Jonathon Willcocks wielded an iron grip on the latter at times but the singers always made it through with a brightness of tone that I have not heard from them in a long time.  It was a master stroke by chorus masters, Libby Farnon and Sue de Gruchy, to use a chamber group in addition to the main choir and both sections put on a remarkable show. 

Although over two hours long, the performance ended all too soon.  With the sound of the magnificent trumpet playing of Luke Brown in the Finale still ringing in our ears, the audience stood and cheered.

At the very start of the evening, Philip Le Brocq, Chaiman of the Jersey Festival Choir dedicated the performance to the memory of Amy Luce MBE.  It was a fitting memorial to Amy.  She would have been so proud of the choir that she once conducted and thrilled with this performance - as was I."


Photographs are copyright: Jersey Evening Post

 The evening was judged a great success with an audience of over 500 people present to hear Messiah sung in the following manner;

PART ONE

1.         Orchestra              Sinfony          (Overture)

2.         Tenor                     Recitative      Comfort Ye

3.         Tenor                     Air                   Ev’ry Valley shall be exalted

4          JFC chorus         Chorus         And the Glory of the Lord

5          Bass                       Recitative      Thus saith the Lord

6.         Alto                         Air                  But who abide the day of His coming

7.         Chamber choir      Chorus           And He shall purify

8.         Alto                         Recitative      Behold, a virgin shall conceive

9.         Alto and chorus                            O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion

10.      Bass                       Recitative      For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth

11.      Bass                       Air                   The people that walked in darkness

12.      JFC                        Chorus         For unto us a child is born

13.      Orchestra              Pastoral Symphony

14a.    Soprano                Recitative      There were shepherds abiding in the field    

14b.    Soprano                Recitative      And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them

15.      Soprano                Recitative      And the angel said unto them

16.      Soprano                Recitative      And suddenly there was an angel

17.      JFC chorus         Chorus         Glory to God

18.      Soprano                Air                   Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion

19.      Alto                         Recitative      Then shall the eyes of the blind

20.      Alto                         Air                   He shall feed his flock like a shepherd

21.      JFC chorus         Chorus         His yoke is easy

 INTERVAL 20 minutes

 PART TWO

22.      JFC chorus         Chorus         Behold the Lamb of God

23.      Alto                         Air                  He was despised

24.      JFC chorus         Chorus         Surely he has borne our griefs

25.      ALL                        Chorus         And with his stripes we are healed

26.      Chamber choir      Chorus          All we like sheep have gone astray

27.      Tenor                       Recitative     All they that see him laugh him to scorn

28.      Chamber Choir      Chorus          He trusted in God

29.      Tenor                       Recitative     Thy rebuke hath broken His heart

30.      Tenor                      Air                   Behold, and see if there be any sorrow

31.      Tenor                      Recitative      He was cut out of the land of the living  

32.      Tenor                      Air                   But thou didst not leave His soul in hell

37.      JFC Chorus         Chorus         The Lord gave the word

38.      Soprano                 Aria                How beautiful are the feet

39.      JFC chorus         Chorus         Their sound is gone out

40.      Bass                       Air                  Why do the nations so furiously rage together         

41.      Chamber choir      Chorus           Let us break their bonds asunder

42.      Tenor                      Recitative      He that dwelleth in heaven

43.      Tenor                      Air                  Thou shalt break them

44.      ALL                        Chorus         Hallelujah

 PART THREE

45.      Soprano                Air                   I know that my Redeemer liveth

46.      JFC chorus         Chorus         Since by man came death

47.      Bass                       Recitative      Behold, I tell you a mystery

48.      Bass                       Air                  The trumpet shall sound

49.      Alto                         Recitative      Then shall be brought to pass

50-51. Alto/Tenor             Duet               O, death where is thy sting?

            Chamber choir     Chorus          But thanks be to God

53.      ALL                Chorus         Worthy is the Lamb that was slain/ Amen chorus

                               

 See a first for the Festival Choir! A flash-mob using the Hallelujah chorus to advertise the concert! Last performed in 2001 and 2009, this choral classic is much loved by many members of the choir.