The Falkirk Festival chorus presented their annual Spring Concert in Falkirk Town Hall on the evening of May 12.
Celebrating their 40th anniversary in great style, the popular chorus performed two choral works, ‘Messe Solennelle de Sainte Cécille’ by Gounod and ‘The Armed Man’ by Karl Jenkins, supported by the Scottish Concert Orchestra.
The concert started with a very difficult quiet entry to the Gounod and the choir was soon into its stride with the Kyrie leading into a rousing Gloria with soprano soloist, Rhona McKail.
Her style was ideally suited to the operatic nature of this work, with clear soaring passages, while the tenor, Raoni Hübner, also had an operatic, almost Italian-style voice compatible with the music and the gravitas of the bass soloist, Nicholas Morris.
The dramatic nature of the piece was well worked by the chorus in their great long crescendos and diminuendos with some nice solo touches by individual orchestra instruments, a flute here or an oboe there.
The work finished with a dance-like, almost jolly, ‘Domine Salvum’.
The sinister sound of marching introduced ‘The Armed Man’, building up to a dramatic climax by the chorus singing, in French, a Renaissance tune incorporating the sentiments of the armed man. The choir handled the primitive harmonies and tricky rhythms with great aplomb, setting the mood for the whole piece.
The men of the choir had their big moment in ‘Save Me from Bloody Men’, a psalm almost in the style of plain chant but the number which really caused shivers up the spine was the build up to the scene of a cavalry charge ending in the chaos of battle and the sounding of the last post by a lone trumpeter from the theatre balcony.
Another triumph for Bob Tait and his Falkirk Festival Chorus. The performance was breath-taking and rightly received prolonged applause from an audience looking forward to another 40 years.