Requiem & Reflections Northampton Bach Choir Craig Phillips UK Premiere

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					                                                                                Premieres
                                                              on those words for the chorus. Craig            though: two large screens onto which
                                                              Phillips is Associate Director of Music and     were projected various views of the orch-
                                                              Composer in Residence at All Saints’ Church,    estra and an impressive collection of ast-
                                                              Beverley Hills, and holds a Doctorate in        ronomical images from various telescopes
                                                              Composition from the Eastman School of          around the world and in space, giant ball-
                                                              Music, Rochester, New York State.               oons represented planets, dry ice floated
                                                                  A member of the audience was so             into the ether and spooky coloured lighting
                                                              impressed she sent the following report         added to the effects.
                               Joseph Phi[pps                 which we are pleased to publish: ‘Although          So, with all this going on, what about
                                                              the Church seemed a bit small for the           the music? The concert began with a rather
                                                              choir’s large sound it is a great venue for a   pointless performance of the Represent-
    Williamson is certainly a technically                     concert of Requiems and Remembrance.            ation of Chaos from Haydn’s Creation (Oh
gifted player; she brought virtuosity and                     The concert opener, Fauré’s Cantique of         yes, there’s the Haydn link too…you get
dedication to this premiere performance.                      Jean Racine, immediately showed great           the idea!), before the oratorio began. The
Joseph Phibbs has written some fine                           dynamic contrasts and a real attention to       story, such as it is, concerns an astronomer
things to date. The first impression of this                  detail on the part of the performers, which     and her student who, having perhaps look-
three-movement, 15-minute concerto                            they brought to the same composer’s             ed through a few too many telescopes,
(similarly scored to the Copland, strings                     Requiem. The Philips piece was a real           pondered the universe and its creation.
and harp, minus the piano) is that it is full                 winner. The choir sang brilliantly, the         The music itself began with high screeches
of potential but doesn’t quite add up. The                    orchestra added wonderful colour and the        on the strings and worked its way through
first movement suggests the dusk of a new                     soloists really brought out the passion of      richly scored episodes, cleverly done per-
day, quite Romantic, the increase in speed                    the music, putting their heart and soul into    cussion and myriad choral effects, rather
and intensity compelling, but the cut-off                     the performance, and in response the            as images from space. A couple of lapses
seems too abrupt leaving the argument in                      singers and players did the same. The first     into up-tempo jazz provided a few high-
mid-air, and whatever the contrasts of the                    part of the Philips emerged out of some         lights, together with some dark string writing
second movement, it’s the slow, elegiac                       odd sounds, but with a fabulous melody.         that landed on various notes before sliding
finale that leaves the biggest impression if                  The choir showed real commitment to the         off like footsteps on an ice floe. Williams’s
still leaving room for a rounding-off fourth                  score and their singing blazed like an open     choral writing was very evocative and
movement that maybe the composer                              fire on what was a wet November evening.’       artfully done, while his dark orchestration
might consider adding.                                        Natalie Creed                
				
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