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Summer concert has audience rejoicing

A summer concert, featuring the Bermuda Chamber Choir and Orchestra with the Bermuda School of Music Youth Choir and orchestra leader Kerry Haslam, included a wide range of music, leaving the audience to come away from St John’s Church in Pembroke with a sense of rejoicing.

This was in part because of two outstanding solo performances in the first half. Eleven-year-old violinist JitHom Liew, accompanied by Anne Marshall on piano, played The Boy Paganini, a charming, virtuosic violin fantasy by Edward Mollenhauser.

Liew played with focused directness and a moving simplicity that Paganini himself might well have appreciated. Twelve-year-old Euan Forster’s vocal rendering of Where’er You Walk from Handel’s 1744 musical drama Semele was equally brilliant, displaying his skilled command of Handel’s operatic vocal flourishes.

But the opening Coronation Anthem No. 3 by Handel and the Regina Coeli by Mozart before the intermission set the tone of exultation.

The key word was “Allelulia”, with Regina closely resembling the voicing and structure of Handel’s Allelulia Chorus. The choirs and musicians came together with tight teamwork, superb dynamics and nuanced emotion to do justice to the music’s impact on the audience.

Haydn’s The Creation Part I formed the core of the evening’s performance and throughout proclaimed joyful triumph. The work consists of 14 oratorios which Haydn wrote to depict the first four days of the creation of the world as recorded in the Book of Genesis.

But he also drew on Milton’s Paradise Lost. In Milton’s cosmos, Lucifer’s rebellion in Heaven and his subsequent ejection led to God’s creation of the Earth. And so Haydn let three angels guide the audience through the creative process.

These were the angels Raphael (bass), sung by Fernando Watts, Uriel (tenor), sung by Kevin Lee and Gabriel (soprano), sung by Madison Fitzpatrick.

Each soloist had powerful projection and crystal-clear enunciation. Interacting and alternating with each other and with the choirs, they formed a meta-creation, themselves creating the creation.

The Creation’s first performance was described by the novelist Stendal then in Vienna: “Who can describe the applause, the delight, the enthusiasm of this society? I was present; and I can assure you, I have never witnessed such a scene. Haydn himself directed the orchestra. The most profound silence, the most scrupulous attention, a sentiment, I might almost say, of religious respect, were the dispositions which prevailed when the first stroke of the bow was given. The general expectation was not disappointed. A long train of beauties, to that moment unknown, unfolded themselves before us. Our minds overcome with pleasure and admiration …” (Letters on Haydn, 1814. p 236).

Director Marjorie Petit’s interpretation some 226 years later evoked a similar response in Bermuda’s audience. As always, we thank her for bringing music of the highest quality to our island. The amount of work on the part of director, soloists, choirs and musicians to bring to us this complex, magnificent work, as well its supporting programme, can only be imagined.

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Published June 22, 2024 at 7:55 am (Updated June 22, 2024 at 7:43 am)

Summer concert has audience rejoicing

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