What a magical night! We loved being back singing Carmina Burana and Jonathan Dove, ‘The Passing of the Year’ on Saturday 16 October with fabulous soloists in a sold-out concert – our first since December 2019.

The concert day was simultaneously totally normal and at the same time quite strange. Walking in in the morning for the rehearsal and hearing the pianos being tuned felt entirely normal, but the realisation that it was such a long time since one heard that evocative sound was rather weird. As was all the other preparatory bustle, setting up the stage and seats, singers and musicians arriving, instrument cases being emptied, wine being delivered etc. But a very welcome reminder of the anticipatory excitement during the afternoon rehearsal before a performance.

And then the concert itself, our first full one since December 2019. The double piano and percussion version of Carmina Burana was fantastically exciting and gave a new dimension to the work for those of us who had always sung the full orchestral version. The same combination of instruments also underlined the subtlety and beauty of Jonathan Dove’s The Passing of the Year which started the concert. A work Chorus members had grown to love over the rehearsal period, with lyrics which seemed particularly relevant for today ……. Ring out the old shapes of foul disease ……. Ring in the thousand years of peace’.

The Youth Choir’s delicate rendition of their solo piece The Seal Lullaby by Eric Whitacre was in marked contrast to their spirited appearance as the Ragazzi in Carmina with the terrific soloists, Paula Sides, Joseph Dooley and Jonathan McGovern giving wonderful performances of their extraordinary solos. All the considerable forces were controlled and encouraged by James Morgan who posted afterwards ‘Concerts are still rare enough to be thrilling! O Fortuna!’

The audience seemed as excited as we were to be all together experiencing the electric thrill of live music. A few of the quotes we’ve had are below and neatly sum up a great evening:

  • I thought it was a great concert and it was very very well received by the seven friends who attended. Three of them were in the front row and were completely blown away by the immersive experience.
  • My husband was totally captivated by the whole thing and loved it. Not what he normally says after one of my concerts! He definitely comes mostly to support me, but he genuinely was bowled away by it last night.
  • Brilliant tour de force – we all enjoyed it tremendously.
  • The baritone soloist was one of the best I have ever heard in this piece – the atmosphere when he sang “Omnia sol temperat” was absolutely electric.

One chorus member summed it up for us all as we came off stage Oh yes – THIS is what we do! We’ve missed it!’

Brighton Festival Chorus are next performing Verdi Requiem in Coventry Cathedral on Saturday 13 November, and our annual Christmas Concert takes place in Brighton Dome on Sunday 12 December.