Review: Cantamici Choir’s A Holy Week Meditation

St Dionysius Church in Market Harborough.
St Dionysius Church in Market Harborough.

REVIEW: The Cantamici Choir at St Dionysius Church, Market Harborough, organised by the Friends of St Dionysius.

April fools were clearly not in evidence at the town’s parish church on Wednesday, April 1, where the Cantamici Choir performed under the expert musical direction of David Necklen.

[Editor’s note]: The name Cantamici is derived from the Italian ‘cantare’, to sing, and ‘amici’, meaning friends. The choir was founded in 1994 and is based in the Clarendon Park area of Leicester. It performs about five or six times a year.

A sizeable and appreciative audience were treated to a superb performance of the first part of JS Bach’s St Matthew Passion.

Historically this work originates from the Lutheran protestant tradition and utilises St Matthew’s gospel account of events in Holy Week prior to the Crucifixion.

The narrative was interspersed with traditional Lutheran hymns and poems.

The events were described through the singing of Evangelist, tenor Simon Lumby and Christ, bass Chris Ouvry-Johns, the latter fresh from busy musical commitments at Leicester Cathedral and the Richard III reburial.

Soprano Jo Boddison as well as three additional choir soloists for certain sections supported their roles.

The work is in this section was essentially meditative: one in which the audience were witnesses to the passive suffering of Christ.

The choir items provide an opportunity for both participation and reflection on what unfolded. They performed with confidence and accuracy.

Bach also included six “chorals”, hymns for audience participation.

The lead soloists were strong, forceful singers delivering with commendable sensitivity and clear diction and were admirably supported by those in the choir with short, solo pieces.

The wonderful playing of Jo Burgess, on keyboard, and David Cowen, on organ, further enriched the evening’s performance.

A work like this needs a “meister“ to pull it all together and Mr Necklen must take great pride and credit for the way he brought out the best in this wonderful collection of gifted performers.

It was a Friends of St Dionysius concert and the enthralling musicianship of the concert will have won many friends in the audience!

Well done Cantamici!

Editor’s note: The aim of the Friends of St Dionysius group, which is chaired by John Gilding with GB Tanner as secretary, is to raise money from social events and from persons outside the church to ensure there is money available to assist the Fabrics Committee to maintain the outside of the church for future townspeople and visitors. It was founded in 1998. For more details about its work, see the website http://friendsofstdionysius.co.uk.

Review by Les Dodd