Mon, January 2nd, 2017
New Year Concert 2017
Posted in the Concert Reports Category
Could there be a better way of welcoming the start of another year? Could there be a finer way of complementing the serenity of this holy place, this revered cradle of Welsh Christianity, than with excellence of this calibre?
The now traditional New Year performance by the John S Davies Singers is eagerly anticipated by all who value the beauty of what has become an all-to-rare display of such choral mastery. One need only consider the capacity audiences, which, year after year, make the annual pilgrimage to this lovely spot to realise what an indispensable part of the Welsh musical calendar the event has become. In lesser hands a musical offering of this nature might perhaps be no more than an
unconnected miscellany of choral pieces: not so with the redoubtable ‘John S’ however.The charismatic conductor of this, one of Britain’s very finest choral ensembles, has a unique gift for programme selection, reminding us that, despite the diktats of the commercial world, Christmas begins, not ends on December 25 and pointing us unerringly to the Feast of the Epiphany four days hence.The rich variety of settings here held the attention from first to last, invoking both reverence and joy from the rapt audience and the inclusion of the beautiful Epiphany hymn, sung so effectively as a Recessional at the very end, was indeed a master stroke.
Nor must one forget the contribution of the gifted soloists, Jessica Cale, former member of the Singers who now performs with The Sixteen in London, and who brought an exquisite soprano quality to Adolph Adam’s ‘O Holy Night.’ Stephen Hamnett’s rich baritone sound was equally impressive in Vaughan Williams’ ‘Fantasia on Christmas Carols’and likewise Steffan Jones as soloist in Herbert Howells’ ‘A Spotless Rose.’ Finally, we must acknowledge the magnificently restored Father Willis organ, the tonal splendour of which was deftly explored by the afternoon’s organ soloist and accompanist, Simon Pearce in a display of panache and authority.
John S Davies’ contribution to Welsh music over the years has been, and continues to be quite incalculable. He is owed an immense debt of gratitude by all who value music-making at its highest level and we hope that he will continue to delight us in this way for many years to come.
Gerald Jones Secretary Llandeilo Festival of Music.