Review of Concert on
Saturday 4th December 2021
From Darkness Comes Light
An outstanding pre-Christmas treat this year was the concert given at Ryde Methodist Church on December 4th by The Tritone Singers directed by Richard Wilkins.
The atmospheric start to the evening was the soprano solo, sung by Kelly Evans, of the first verse of Once in Royal David’s City - a tradition seen every year in Carols from King's and in many churches. The clarity and purity of Kelly’s tone soared into the silence of the church. The harmonies and the expert blending of all the voices developed as the rest of the choir joined in; with the audience raising their voices for the following verses.
Richard established a rapport with the audience, as well as conducting and accompanying the choir on the keyboard. He created an evening of beauty, harmony, communication.
The choir members were happy to be back together, making music and performing in public, after nearly two years of covid restrictions. As well as the strict discipline involved in singing in such a professional choir, there is also, clearly, fun and enjoyment
The story told by the selection of music continued to be traditional; and there was also constant variety and interest. In date, the carols ranged from an arrangement of the fifteenth century words of ‘Adam Lay Ybounden’ and JS Bach’s ‘Break forth O Beauteous Heavenly Light’ to twentieth century pieces by Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten. There were well known carols such as In the Bleak Midwinter; but they were always different as well as familiar because of the complex harmonies and range of dynamics. Ding Dong Merrily On High, for instance, in the arrangement by LLewellyn, was especially joyful and light-hearted due to the unexpected changes and twists created by the time signature of 5/4; and in contrast there was the solemnity and controlled quietness of Silent Night. There were more striking solos - by Kelly again and by Louise Elton Walters and Peter Ednay - against the perfect balance of all the other voices.
Ryde Methodist Church, which generously hosted the performance, was an ideal venue for the audience of about one hundred people, with its elegant, simple architecture and its good acoustics which enhanced the clear diction of the singing. During the interval, with hot drinks and cake provided by the church, everyone was discussing the inspiring music; and this appreciation was reflected in the retiring collection, resulting in a donation of £551 to Mountbatten Hospice.
During the concert, the church felt like a self-contained, enclosed world, cut off temporarily from the global and personal upheavals and tragedies outside. Yet, as the name of the concert indicates, the myth which the music re-told was also a reflection on the whole of life and death, light in the darkness, new life and hope in the depth of winter.