A balanced and cohesive performance
The New Choral Singers recently gave a performance in aid of the restoration of Emvin Cremona’s Annunciation.
Like so many of our churches, that of the Annunciation, the parish church of Balzan, is a depository of various works of art.
The renowned Emvin Cremona’s painting of the Annunciation, dating back to 1957, is currently undergoing restoration. A worthy fundraising exercise in aid of this project was the concert presented recently by the New Choral Singers directed by Robert Calleja.
Calleja said in his introduction that the programme was purposely meant to be of a relaxing and reflective nature and that it certainly was.
This choral group is worthy of the reputation it has established as one of the country’s leading choirs. Hardly anything is left to chance and theirs is a disciplined compact body of singers whose cohesion and balance are pretty outstanding. This made it rather surprising that during the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria, the sopranos did not sound as polished as they should and could have been.
Otherwise the evening was, for the choir, plain-sailing, as they adapted to change of style and idiom as effortlessly as possible.
Unaccompanied singing, as in Palestrina’s Sicut Cervus, with the choir alone and exposed, provides proof of the choir’s worthiness.
There were so many well-rendered works that it is difficult to single out the best ones. Riz Ortolani’s Fratello Sole, Sorella Luna comes to mind, as do Goodall’ s The Lord is my Shepherd, redolent with hopeful fervour and the relaxing You Are the Peace of all Things Calm. The less familiar setting of the Ave Verum by Elgar and the traditional Amazing Grace, together with Strommen’s Light a Candle, also deserve a mention.
Mezzo-soprano Alexandra Scicluna was guest soloist and sang Franck’s Panis Angelicus, with the choir joining in for the second half of this exquisite work. Knowing how much the singer’s voice has improved of late, her rendering of this work was a bit disappointing.
The voice seemed rather unsettled and only comfortable in the lower reaches. However, there was a marked change for the better in the Ave Maria by William Gomez, which Scicluna sang with great conviction and in very good form. Switching to a different style, she was no less accomplished in Gounod’s O Divine Redeemer.
The choir ended the concert in a suitably jubilant mood by singing Pitoni’s Cantate Domino in which once again they provided the best in a cappella singing. The evening’s able accompanists were Irina Fedcenko-Carbonaro during the first half, with Shirley Helleur in the second half.