Christopher Slater

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St Andrew’s United Reformed Church, Cheam, was the venue for the Epsom Choral Society’s summer concert this year, with the acoustic favouring the large choir under their new conductor Julian Collings. Those regular supporters of the society who were not present missed a varied well-chosen programme which, although different from the usual fare offered in St Martin’s Epsom, was never-the-less performed with the same skill that one has come to expect from this society. Furthermore there was an enthusiasm generated by the choir that made the whole experience very pleasurable!

This was immediately apparent in the lively performance of Bob Chilcott’s A Little Jazz Mass that opened the programme, with its off-beat chords and sometimes bluesy accompaniment from piano, bass and drums.

This was echoed, although different in style, by George Shearing’s seven settings of Shakespeare collectively entitled Songs and Sonnets. Here the choir demonstrated their ability to sing softly and with clear projection and with a variety of tone colours that characterised the diverse poems such as Who is Sylvia and Hey, ho, the wind and the rain.

Mention must also be made of the contribution of pianist Marion Lea whose dexterity and touch both here and indeed throughout the evening was a joy. Marion was joined by conductor Julian for three numbers from Walton’s Façade arranged for piano duet by Constant Lambert. The speaker, John Taylor, was drawn from the choir but the acoustic of the church meant that the clarity of some of the text was lost. This was a pity for he clearly relished the words of Edith Sitwell.

The concert concluded with Feel the Spirit by John Rutter with Rosanna Cooper as the soloist. Although described as a mezzo soprano her low notes were more that of an alto voice, and her whole range and singing was always deeply expressive and worthy of the enthusiastic applause she received.

One final comment! The choir under its new Musical Director seemed to function as a well- knit whole with the minimum of fuss by the conductor and with good projection and good balance throughout.

Thanks to our guest reviewer, local musician Christopher Slater, and to our photographer Clive Richardson.

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