Review: The Manchester Carols

Christmas music EMN-141214-184057001
Christmas music EMN-141214-184057001

Review by Geoff Goddard

Choral Societies up and down the country will be singing Handel’s Messiah at this time of the year - the Market Rasen and District Choral Society have sung the Manchester Carols instead.

Written by the poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy and set to music by Sasha Johnson Manning, they are a different look at the familiar bible story. Each one of the 12 carols represents distinct parts of the Christmas tale, linked together with readings which, in this instance, were delivered by Ian Hogg.

The whole piece is very effective and is easy for the audience. For the choir it is a challenge which for the most part was handled quite well, the different vocal lines were blended well once they had become established.

However, several entrances were rather fluffy and there was not a lot of commitment at various times.

The layout of the Methodist Church makes it difficult for the conductor, Jeffrey Blewett, to be seen by all of the singers. More emphatic gestures from the musical director might help to ensure that all parts are brought in more securely.

There were two small parts for soloists. The baritone Adam Gouldin was clearly new to the work and in places he appeared to fade away and could not be heard against the background of the chorus. Laura Barnes, soprano, had two good solo parts and delivered them very well.

Overall, it was an enjoyable way to spend a Sunday afternoon and it was to their credit that the Choral Society opted to sing something different and give it a chance to be heard by a local audience.

The Society’s next concert will be on 9th May 2015 in De Aston Sports Hall, where they will present “ZIMBE” by Alexander L’Estrange, with choirs from local schools.