Review: Songs of Light, Belper Singers

‘Songs of Light’ might not be an obvious title for a concert on a dark November evening. Yet this theme could not have been more appropriate for the Belper Singers’ concert at Christchurch, Belper, on November 18.

The first piece of the evening, MacMillan’s O Radiant Dawn, had a powerful intensity that was aided by the choir’s clear diction and effective dynamic contrast.

These skills, combined with a good balance of parts, were demonstrated throughout the evening and are clearly testament to the leadership of the choir’s musical director, Mitchell Holland.

The programme spanned an impressive range of musical periods, with pieces including sixteenth-century sacred works of Robert White and Thomas Tallis, to the twenty-first century Seal Lullaby of Eric Whitacre.

The choir’s versatility was not limited to their programme; demanding solo parts were performed skilfully by choir members Julian Hodgson, Lydia Johnson, Tom Johnson, Heather MacGowan, Ruth Regan and Tony Ward. Mitchell Holland provided piano accompaniment for some of the pieces, giving tenor Tom Johnson the opportunity to shine as a conductor and soloist.

Short poems, read by choir members between some of the pieces, added to the contemplative atmosphere of the evening.

The concert ended rather poignantly with a performance of Eric Whitacre’s Seal Lullaby, which was dedicated to the memory of Angela Jones, a choir member who died recently.

In compliment to the gravitas of some of the underlying themes of the evening, the energy and musicality of the choir gave the performance a vitality and depth fully in keeping with ‘Songs of Light’.

By Edmund Hunt