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‘It was just wonderful.’

 ‘The best performance of Gerontius I have ever heard’

These were just a few comments overheard at the end of a perfect performance. …. When Diana Moore hit the top A in the final Alleluia in Elgar’s famous music drama, it resounded around the Cathedral with a power of emotion that stunned the entire audience.  It was as if the great God himself was smiling down upon us on that otherwise wet and windy Saturday evening.  But this was just a moment from the performance of a lifetime.  Tenor, James Oxley proved the perfect Gerontius to Diana’s Angel and he sang it all from memory.  Both singers acted their roles with commitment and understanding of the drama.  This did not detract from Quentin Hayes role of Priest and Angel of the Agony, sung from the perfect position of the pulpit.  His authoritative operatic baritone sailed to every corner of our great cathedral.  A perfect trio!

Guest conductor Brian Kay was delighted with the performance.  He praised all the performers and the Chorus Master for both the Southampton Choral Society, and the Renaissance Choir – who sang the semi-chorus.  (Peter Gambie is Musical Director of both choirs.)

The Southern Pro Musica provided the orchestral force of distinction.  They showed a total understanding of Elgar’s complex orchestration that is so often absent in internationally renowned orchestras.  A big thank you needs to be said to their Musical Director, Jonathan Willcocks, for his background work with the orchestra.

I even heard one of the Choral Society’s longer-term members commenting about a previous performance in 1966, with a very young Janet Baker as the Angel:

‘Well, it was equally as good as that performance … No! I think it was even better!

Well-done, Southampton Choral Society for organising such a truly wonderful performance and an evening to remember for many years to come.

David Pearce

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