Review: Fisher Singers at St Peter’s Church, Harrogate by Dr Daphne West
Under the baton of guest conductor, Eno Koco, and with four fine soloists, the Fisher Singers delighted their large audience with a programme of well-loved classics in the splendid setting of St Peter’s Church.
In the first part of the programme impressive solo items from soprano, Joanne Dexter (Mozart’s Allelujah from Exultate Jubilate) and bass, John Cunningham (The Trumpet Shall Sound from Handel’s Messiah) were interwoven with choral numbers.
The Fisher Singers clearly relished the opportunity to open the evening with Zadok the Priest; clear diction and effective contrasts between the sustained and staccato passages, and some fine runs (from the sopranos and basses in particular) made for a sparkling opener.
Attention to dynamic details and phrasing characterised their performance of Mozart’s Ave Verum, in which the alto and tenor sections sang with commendable richness.
The second half of the programme saw The Fisher Singers and soloists (Joanne Dexter and John Cunningham joined by alto, Sarah Branson, and tenor, Joseph Spratt) give a scintillating performance of Haydn’s Nelson Mass (The Missa in Angustiis).
Throughout the work the chorus sections from The Fisher Singers were sensitively and effectively interwoven with the solo passages.
From the glorious opening Kyrie to the final Dona Nobis, the choir proved its ability to sing with rhythmic accuracy, good intonation and a real sense of enjoyment.
The sopranos deserve congratulations for their excellent top notes and the altos for their attack on some of the trickier entries and the tenor line in Quoniam tu solus came through beautifully, and the basses excelled themselves in the Gloria.
The choir and soloists were accompanied by orchestra and organist Graham Barber.
There was some beautiful and sensitive playing from the organ and from the cello section of the orchestra in particular.
The performance of the Fisher Singers demonstrated what an excellent community choir they are; enjoyment was clear to see across the age groups.
It is a tribute to their musical director, June Garbutt, that they are able to tackle challenging choral works with such musicality and a tribute to the whole choir that the fine young tenor soloist, Joseph Spratt, is actually a former member of The Fisher Singers.
A brilliant evening of brilliant music!