Kidderminster Choral Society review

A JEWEL IN WYRE FOREST'S CROWN

KIDDERMINSTER CHORAL SOCIETY
Kidderminster Town Hall ****

There is a jewel in the Wyre Forest's cultural crown which is Kidderminster Choral Society. Their performances leap out after inspirational preparation under conductor Geoffrey Weaver, they engage the Elgar Sinfonia, a scratch orchestra which achieves miracles on the barest minimum of rehearsal, and they present programmes which are always stimulating and never (dare I say it?) "provincial".
Saturday was a case in point, when after a joyously-sprung Dvorak G minor Slavonic Dance and a rapt Song to the Moon from his opera Rusalka, Linda Richardson the soloist, we heard the UK premiere of Weaver's own Te Deum, first performed in Hong Kong last July.
This is a magnificent example of all that is best about the Anglican choral tradition, blazing in glory, chastely contemplative, and here with the bonus of vibrant orchestration. Verbal rhythms were clear, there were some gorgeously sweet chains of thirds, and the whole account packed such a punch under the composer's direction.
Then came the "biggie", Dvorak's Stabat Mater, a bizarre early piece which manages to combine baroque procedures (including a ridiculously taxing "Amen" finale) with sumptuous Wagnerian harmonies, but whose sincerity shines through every bar.
The KCS projected with confidence and clarity, the soloists (Richardson joined by an excellent eleventh-hour stand-in, mezzo Simone Ibbett-Brown, tenor John Pierce, bass Alan Fairs -- what a wonderful "Fac ut ardeat" he delivered) were well-blended, and the orchestra responded expertly to Dvorak's warm colourings.
As I made my way back to the car park I realised I was walking across Weaver's Wharf. Who needs a blue plaque?

Christopher Morley

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