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Review of Concert on

Saturday 14th December 2019

by Judith Hunt


All Saints’ Church Gurnard was the warm and welcoming venue for the Tritone Singers’ Christmas Concert on December 14th.  The church was packed, rightly so for all sorts of reasons.


The first half consisted of Britten’s Ceremony of Carols in which the singers were joined by the harpist Kate Ham who also played for a lyrical setting of “In the bleak midwinter” by Charles Paterson.


The Ceremony of Carols is a setting of eleven texts mostly in Middle English, written in 1942. It demands versatility and agility from the choir as the mood changes rapidly, from the jollity of “Wolcum Yole” to the reverence of “There is no Rose”, from the bone chilling of “In Freezing Winter Night” to the hopefulness of “Spring Carol” sung beautifully here by Helen Mansfield and Siobhan Cosgrove .


Tritone Singers, under their Director Richard Wilkins, managed the transitions apparently effortlessly. There was sympathy in the complex lullaby “That Yonge Child”, which Kate Ham the harpist and singer Deborah Coeshott depicted ably. ”Balulalow” with soaring soloist Kelly Wavell would have rocked the audience to sleep had it not been so gripping, the contrasting dynamics of “As dew in Aprille” were meticulously observed. The ferocity and speed of “This little Babe” led to the tranquillity of the harp’s Interlude, had a pin dropped it would have been heard, Kate Ham entranced everyone. The choir concluded the piece resolutely in affirmative mode with “Deo Gracias”.


Richard Wilkins, now in sparkling gold waistcoat, conducted Morton Lauridsen’s “O Magnum Mysterium” setting an ethereal tone to start the second half. We next enjoyed  two settings by Herbert Howells, the first “A Spotless Rose” with lyrical tenor solo from Robin Lang. Four carols from the Novello collection “Sing Nowell” followed, “Silent Night” and “Ding Dong Merrily on High” refreshing to hear in their departures from the norm, the latter with its interjections of “Ding”.


“Angels from the Realms of Glory” was given a wonderful coloratura twist by soprano soloist Helen Mansfield, glory indeed. Richard Wilkins then conducted some of his own compositions, originally written for children. The women of the choir had the Christ child sleeping soundly with their rendition of Wilkins’ “Lullaby”, and the shepherds jigging with the syncopation of “Shepherds’ Carol”. Annette Martin’s setting of “As with Gladness” made the audience rethink the well known words. The concert ended with Mendelssohn’s “Frohlocket, ihr Völker auf Erden“  in which the choir proved magnificently that they can do full bodied as well as simplicity.


Don’t miss Tritone Singers’ next concert, English Partsongs at Ryde Methodist Church on February 29th, it will be a brilliant way to celebrate the Leap Year.

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