We've wanted for some time to bring this young ensemble of singers to Christ Church, and it was well worth the wait! They launched our 2016 season with a programme called "Crucifixus", featuring mainly sacred music for Easter spanning several centuries, sung with great beauty and control.
The choir has been going for almost five years, with a number of its members - including Musical Director Sean Bui - having learned their craft in the Taplow choirs which have sung at Christ Church on several occasions. Precision and fine diction could therefore be taken for granted, but what was really impressive was the way that their voices blended together, particularly noteworthy in the quieter pieces where the sound was allowed to drift gently into the stillness.
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To begin the concert by tackling the heights of Allegri's Miserere was certainly a bold decision! It is a mighty work and - while there was the odd tuning problem along the way - the leading Quintet were magnificent, with Emily's soaring "treble" line tugging every heartstring. Solo items followed - well done to Mhari, Andy, Peter, the other Emily and James who all sang solos during the concert, of which my favourite was James' strong performance of Vaughan Williams' Easter, expertly accompanied by Richard Fustenheim. But the afternoon belonged to the choir, with its very fine ensemble work - Stopford's Ave Verum was beautiful in every way, before a shift of gear finished the first half with a soulful Were you there and a lively Plenty Good Room.
After a break for tea and cakes (thanks to church members and friends for those!) the second half included some quite unusual items. The finale was a remarkable Cantate Domino by Elberdin, sung partly in Basque (another first for Christ Church!). And as an encore the choir added a gorgeous setting by Blake Henson of Herrick's poem To Music, Becalm his Fever which left off where we came in: fine control, perfect balance and a great sense of ensemble. Many thanks to Sean and the whole choir for a lovely afternoon.