Chelmsford Singers at St Luke's Tiptree
In the Victorian church at Tiptree, a fascinating evening of unaccompanied song settings, inspired in part by the earliest days of the Chelmsford Singers, ninety years ago.
James Davy and the Singers began with an early Weelkes madrigal, but from then on it was music from the twentieth century: folk song settings from Vaughan Williams, including a powerful Lover's Ghost, and the well-known, if unseasonal, Wassail Song. Another folk song enthusiast, who also drew inspiration from the Essex countryside, was Gustav Holst, contributing six settings, including an intricate There Was a Tree, an energetic Blacksmith and, before the rollicking sea shanty, a moving I Love My Love, with a tellingly fragmented refrain.
Huddersfield-born Robert Cockcroft, newspaperman, organist and composer, was represented by Three Yorkshire Folk Songs, culminating in a toe-tapping, nonsensical Acre of Land.
Frank Bridge's Five Part Songs set poems, including Shelley's Autumn. The same poet's Music When Soft Voices Die was beautifully sung here, as was the Tennyson's whimsical Bee.
The acoustic here is bright and supportive, ideally suited to a programme where words are important, and the interweaving of the parts needs to be clearly defined.
The choir's 90th Anniversary celebrations continue with a Gala Concert in Chelmsford Cathedral on July 1st, with two crowd-pleasers, Britten's Saint Nicolas and Orff's Carmina Burana.