Review of our annual concert at Reading Concert Hall:
For the second year, the annual concert by the Reading Phoenix Choir was presented at Reading Concert Hall. The music of the choir spread around the vast concert hall, clear and bright, although we were sitting in the centre
of the gallery, arguably the best seats in the house. Orchestral music in this hall sometimes sounds distorted but the venue seems to suit a large, well disciplined choir such as this. Musical Director David Crown conducted from the staging, as the choir entered from the rear of the hall and took their places as they sang I Vow To Thee My Country by Gustav Holst. Following on, Crown introduced the traditional Gaudete, recorded by folk band Steeleye Span, the choir robust and bright and yes, they did avoid the Somerset Latin accents of the rock group. Polyphonic music by Thomas Morley and de Victoria came next and then Handel’s Zadok the Priest, the choir joyous in their interpretation.
Soloists Bartosz Woroch on violin and Robert Thompson at the piano gave an exquisite reading of JS Bach’s Violin Sonata No 3 in E and then Woroch moved to near the big church organ to join the choir in the Sanctus from Fauré’s great Requiem. The choir alone tackled a piece by Debussy which was warm and expansive. This is a very fine choir indeed with a wide range of music to offer.
On a lighter note we heard Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby by Louis Jordan (without the R&B honks of course) but in an arrangement that imitated rhythm instruments successfully. It all ended with some traditional spirituals including Billy Taylor’s I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free, sung slowly against gospel chords at the piano and the choir trooped out at the end, as they had arrived, through the back doors, to thunderous applause.
Derek Ansell, Newbury Weekly News