17th of March, 2024

Two choral classics – one old, one new – were warmly received when the region’s leading large classical choir, Worcester Festival Choral Society, presented works by Beethoven and Blackford at Worcester Cathedral on Saturday 16 March.

Featuring 140 singers, a 33-piece orchestra and internationally acclaimed soloists whose credits include The Royal Opera, English Touring Opera and Opera North, the concert’s main attraction of Beethoven’s radiant choral masterpiece, Mass in C was passionately performed by the Society. Containing some of his most sublime music for voices, the Mass was commissioned by a Hungarian prince in 1807 and today is regarded as one of Beethoven’s most moving works. 

The concert’s first half – Richard Blackford's ravishing 1996 cantata, Mirror of Perfection – added great musical emotion to poetry by St Francis of Assisi, and for many in the audience the work was perhaps the revelation of the night. The presence of the award-winning composer himself, both to present an insightful pre-concert talk and at the concert itself, lent the event an additional air of excitement.

The evening’s soloists were soprano Susanna Fairbairn, mezzo-soprano Samantha Price, tenor Gwilym Bowen and baritone Dominic Sedgwick. Accompanying were the Meridian Sinfonia orchestra, with Worcester Cathedral's director of music, Samuel Hudson, conducting.

Susan White, Chairman of Worcester Festival Choral Society, said: “There is something very special about hearing classical choral music performed live on this scale, in the Cathedral’s majestic surroundings. For this season-ending concert we presented two, superb works from different eras, and it proved to be an outstanding experience.” 

Worcester Festival Choral Society has brought the choral greats to Worcester since 1861 and was often conducted by Sir Edward Elgar in its early days. Today it stages three concerts at Worcester Cathedral each year, plus an annual ‘Come & Sing’ workshop. Many WFCS singers are also selected for the renowned Three Choirs Festival Chorus each summer. 


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