Review by Helena Houghton
Late on the wet and windy afternoon of Saturday 28 November, Cantus, Ringwood Choral Society, found a warmth, which captured the anticipation of the season in their spectacular concert in Ringwood Parish Church, welcoming Advent. Their Director of Music, Malcolm Harding, had selected a varied programme which included several antiphonal pieces, ranging from Palestrina’s traditional Advent Response to other pieces with less traditional, crunchier harmonies such as Britten’s A Hymn to the Virgin, Gibbon’s This is the Record of John and Hadley’s I Sing of a Maiden.
The timbres of the antiphonal pieces were enhanced by the soloists, three of whom, true to Cantus’ ethos of the promotion of young singers, were students of music: Catherine Smith (soprano), Daniel Bell (tenor) and Alex Cook (bass). They were ably assisted by Chris Tapley (counter tenor).
Variety was introduced to the programme by the Rev’d David Miell’s reading of two contrasting Advent poems: one by Christina Rossetti and the other, a great favourite, by John Betjeman.
Timothy Rice, the organist and Cantus’ accompanist, demonstrated his skills on the church organ with Bach’s chorale prelude Wachet Auf, Ruft uns die Stimme, as well as providing sympathetic accompaniment from both the church organ and the chamber organ.
The concert concluded with a solo from Catherine Smith, who treated the audience to ‘Rejoice Greatly’, followed by the choir in the chorus ‘And the Glory of the Lord’ from Handel’s Messiah.
As one member of the public commented as he left the church, “Ringwood should be proud to have a choir of such high calibre.”
Cantus is always pleased to welcome new members. It meets weekly in the Parish Rooms behind the Parish Church in Market Place, Ringwood, at 7.30pm on Monday. For more details please contact Malcolm Harding on 07502 417950. Its next concert will be Stainer’s Crucifixion on Saturday 19 March 2016.