St Benedict's performs Handel's Messiah
St Benedict's Consort Choir, Ealing Abbey Choir, soloists Catherine Bench (OP15) (soprano), Gemma Morsley (mezzo-soprano), Oliver Kelham (tenor) and Grant Doyle (bass) gave an exuberant performance of Handel's Messiah on Saturday 3rd December in the Abbey.
Ben Dovey (Upper Sixth) who sings tenor in the Consort Choir, reviews the performance:
On Saturday, 3rd December, 45 members of the Consort Choir, Ealing Abbey Choir and returning Old Priorians, came together for an uplifting and memorable performance of Handel’s Messiah in Ealing Abbey conducted by Mr Christopher Eastwood, Director of Music. The choir was accompanied by professional orchestra - including St Benedict’s staff, peripatetic music teachers and a current Year 10 student – and joined by soloists Catherine Bench (OP15) (soprano), Gemma Morsley (mezzo-soprano), Oliver Kelham (tenor) and Grant Doyle (bass).
Many of the members of Consort Choir are former Ealing Abbey choristers, who already owned a copy of the vocal score, which is the traditional gift when leaving the choir at the end of Year 8. Few of us had actually sung the full oratorio before, although some numbers were already familiar from Christmas and Easter performances with the Abbey Choir. Over weeks of rehearsals, I enjoyed learning the other choruses under the able direction of Mr Eastwood, particularly the joyful His yoke is easy, which ends Part 1.
In our final rehearsal on the afternoon of the concert, the full choir met for the first time, and we got to hear the orchestra and soloists, which really brought the music to life and added a sense of anticipation. Since the orchestra and soloists had already rehearsed the arias and recitative passages, the tutti rehearsal concentrated on the choruses and on the appropriate tempo, dynamics and balance for the acoustics of the cavernous Abbey and its impressive reverberation.
We returned in the evening in our smartest school uniform, with the Abbey Choir dressed in their cassocks. Following the orchestral overture and the uplifting tenor aria Ev’ry valley shall be exalted, we sang our first chorus And the glory of the Lord. The next two hours flew by surprisingly quickly, and we were soon singing my favourite chorus which concludes the whole work, Worthy is the lamb. I was particularly impressed by the expressive singing of soprano, Catherine Bench, who communicated the story very well especially in the Aria I know that my redeemer liveth. The concert was a great success and was met with a standing ovation from an appreciative audience.