Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Song of Songs at Mount St Alphonsus

Composer Patrick Hawes talks about his choral work Song of Songs

MIC Choral Society Spring Concert at Redemptorist Church, Limerick
Song of Songs  Patrick Hawes
Requiem          John Rutter
Soloist             Carmel Conway 

The Redemptorist Church  was filled with a hush  of quiet anticipation with a hint of apprehension at the all modern programme chosen by choirmaster, Paul Collins  for the annual concert of the Mary Immaculate Choral Society. The ensemble was augmented by the Redemptorist Church Choir and accompanied by the Limerick Baroque Players. While Rutter is a familiar name in choral music, Patrick Hawes was new  to me .  The  Song of Songs were beautiful tonal settings of six texts of love poetry selected from the Old Testament, 'expressing desire. hope , confusion and joy'. It was almost but not quite the Irish premiere of the work published in 2009**. I note that the composer himself  conducted the work with the Louth Choral Society earlier this month . Review here 
The harp was placed in a central position splitting  the string orchestra in half  making a visually pleasing tableau. Soprano,  Carmel Conway's voice soared effortlessly to the higher registers above the sparse string lines and there was some lovely duets between Ken Rice on  violin and soprano.
The Requiem  by John Rutter was written in memory of the composer's father and first performed in 1985 . Of the seven movements, the setting of the psalm 130, De Profundis was particularly striking  The influence of the English Romantic tradition was heard in  the cello solo  played with great feeling by Tara-Lee Byrne which  struck the sombre tone before the choir crept in with the words -Out of the Deep.

The choir delivered the texts with a good range of dynamics and a satisfying firmness of attack in the rhythmic sections and the tone sounded rich in this acoustic. The audience lingered for a quite a while to savour the evening . The concert was introduced by Fr Adrian Egan who reminded the congregation that the occasion  was one of reflection and dedication to mark 150th anniversary of the opening of the  Redemptorist Church.

** Correction.  Mea Culpa. I assumed that the concert referred to in the article was  a concert from Louth Contemporary Music Society, Ireland which has a track record of programming major contemporary composers . I was mistaken and I am grateful to the composer for the clarification that the concert referred to  took place in Louth in Lincolnshire and not in Leinster as assumed . And indeed the event on Sunday was the Irish premiere of the work , Song of Songs by Patrick Hawes and all the more auspicious for that.

Who we met :   We enjoyed talking to Bernadette Kiely , director of music at St John's Cathedral about the music selected for the recent episcopal events and tenor Stephen O Shea on the forthcoming 50th anniversary of the Limerick Choral Union.

Related posts MIC Spring Concert 2012

View from the Viola 


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