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Witham Choral Society Concert Reviews

Friday 17th April 2015

Wednesday 11th March 2015


‘Wow! What a great Last Night of the Proms concert on 11 March at Witham Public Hall. A near capacity audience who started the cheering after the first item – Zadok … the Priest. From the choir I could see the delight on their faces as they enjoyed every item on the programme from the opera choruses to Gabriel’s Oboe and Faure’s haunting Pavane. The orchestra was marvellous and trumpets, French horns, oboe, flute, clarinet, lead violin and cello were especially featured. All the proms favourites were enthusiastically received, flags were waved and the audience joined in Land of Hope and Glory, Rule Britannia and Jerusalem. Thank you musical director Patrick McCarthy for putting together such a wonderful programme!’

Essex Life article. Posted 19.10.15

Saturday 7th November 2015
Witham Public Hall

Handel's Messiah

Braintree & Witham Times

Witham Choral Society and the Colchester Bach Orchestra:

Handel’s Messiah was first performed in the Musick Hall, Fishamble Street, Dublin, in April 1742. It is fitting, therefore, that Witham Choral Society (WCS) chose to perform the work in Witham Public Hall. Today, most performances of this oratorio take place in churches or cathedrals. So, would this bold step to take Handel’s masterpiece back to the concert hall be a success? Well, I am pleased to say it was a resounding success, opening with an engaging and intimate performance of the sinfony by the orchestra.

Another bold step taken by WCS was their decision not to engage a tenor soloist. Instead, many of the arias usually sung by the tenor were sung by the soprano soloist. Gill Wilson rose to the occasion, giving a plaintive account of Comfort ye my people, leading into Ev’ry valley shall be exalted, which she sang with a lightness of touch. On more familiar ground, her later rendition of Rejoice greatly O daughter of Zion was a liquid delight.

The choir gave a robust rendition of And the glory of the Lord, and went on to give a lively account of For unto us a child is born. The consecutive trio of choruses in Part II was particularly effective: the mood of each was perfectly judged.

The conductor, Patrick McCarthy, also sang the bass solos, singing Thus saith the Lord of hosts with a keen sense of drama. His voice had a pleasing resonant depth, which was most evident in his stirring account of Behold, I tell you a mystery, and The trumpet shall sound.

Elaine Henson (mezzo-soprano) gave a delightful rendition of O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, which was sung with conviction throughout, and she went on to give a lush and meaningful account of He was despised.

There were many other highlights in this performance. There was great choral strength in Lift up your heads, and a rousing Hallelujah Chorus. Elsewhere, the cello and keyboard combined to good effect, and the off-stage and on-stage trumpet playing a joy.

This was a perfect way to celebrate Patrick McCarthy’s twenty years at the helm of WCS. Long may it continue!

David Wood

Mendelssohn Elijah

……..In their many roles within the plot, the chorus was always on top form. They were suitably thoughtful and reflective in Blessed are the men who fear him, and perfectly balanced in Baal, we cry to Thee. In Behold, God the Lord passed by, a whole range of emotion was portrayed, from the destructive forces of earthquake and fire to the calming voice of the Lord…….

Patrick McCarthy gave………a compelling account of Mendelssohn’s masterpiece

David Wood for Braintree and Witham Times

Review of St Nicholas - Britten

Handel Messiah

……Throughout the performance, there was a perfect balance between the sections of the choir……This was a memorable concert that took us through the highways and byways of Handel’s monumental masterpiece.


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