Edinburgh Festival 2019

16-17 August 2019

Thank you all... it was truly sublime.

Perfection! Wonderful!

Awesome, as always!

Lovely!

Edinburgh Festival 2018

18-19 August 2018

The official review by Louise Rodgers of Three Weeks complimented the Choir on embodying the spirit of the Festival:

‘This show is why the Edinburgh Fringe started: an ambitious amateur choir performing in a city centre venue at the same time as the greatest musicians in the world hold court at the Edinburgh International Festival, and sharing the same audiences. The Rachmaninov Vespers can be daunting to perform but this chamber choir, from a small Northumbrian town, tackled it with a palpable enthusiasm that communicated well to the audience. The dynamics were sensitively observed and there was plenty of light and shade; when all the voices sang together it was both bright and sonorous, an impressively joyful sound’.

 

Social media Comments:

 

“Congratulations to Alnwick’s @RockFestChoir for a wonderful performance of the Rachmaninov Vespers @edfringe yesterday. Moving and uplifting, superbly sung.”

 

 “Excellent concert tonight”

 

 “Great performance this evening at Canongate Kirk. Congratulations to you all. Well worth the journey.”

 

“Can highly recommend Rock Festival Choir’s Rachmaninov Vespers – on again tomorrow evening. Good Luck! I’m sure you’ll be just as fantastic.”

 

“You were great tonight too 💖 congratulations to you all!”

 

“Sounds fab, and a full audience too!”

 

“Sounds absolutely amazing”

 

“moving, uplifting and superbly sung”

 

“breathtaking”

Advent Concert 2016

November 27, 2016

A warmly attentive audience fell silent as Rock Festival Choir appeared in groups around the nave and a drumbeat announced Margaret Watchorn’s rhythmic arrangement of a thirteenth century hymn, which filled the church with surround sound and introduced us afresh to the members of this now well-known, dedicated and gifted choir under its director Peter Brown.  The singers gradually converged onto the altar steps, where the mood was changed entirely with Peter Hignett’s pensive, hymn-like ‘The God we seek’ and Judith Weir’s ’I love all beauteous things’, cathedral music, first performed for the Queen’s ninetieth birthday, coming across well in St Paul’s acoustic with the choir’s enormous range of tone, from the softest pp to a soaring full sound, amazing coming from just eighteen singers! 

 

The third composition by a member of the choir was Cheryl Camm’s ‘That first Christmas night’, with its narrative and varied line supported by a gentle humming motif.  The line up of composers was firmly set in the modern age but with strong mediaeval echoes.  The choir delighted our ears in the next three unaccompanied works with characteristic control and focus, and ever more luscious and varied sounds to transport us far away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. 

 

William Mathias’s ‘Bell Carol’ led us, gently at first, into a lively joyous mood of celebration, before Alan Gidney’s organ interlude, ‘Let us rejoice’, demonstrated that the organ can sing with just as many voices as the choir!  Such a mid concert break from the singing is so much better for this particular concert than an interval, as the atmosphere is not broken but carried through.  The choir picked up the theme from the side with the syncopated rhythmic ‘Rejoice’, highlighting different groups in the choir, before returning to the steps for the absolute simplicity of the haunting  confessional carol ‘Jesus Christ the Apple Tree’, followed by choral works culminating in the well known carol ‘Ding dong merrily on high’, recognisable but reworked into a jazzy number full of life and vigour.  The organ had the last word with a lively full stop flourish.

Spring Concert 2014

March 16, 2014

 

Rock Festival Choir lived up to its growing reputation when it performed its Spring Concert in Alnwick’s St Paul’s Church on March 16, giving a feast of demanding but rewarding choral works from the 16th to the 21st centuries.

 

The choir always treats us to a full and luscious tone, fully rounded in the loud parts and exquisitely delicate when the volume reduces to just a whisper. They sing with great commitment and the solos rise out of the ensemble sure and clear with a beautiful tone.

 

A highlight of their latest concert was the two world premières of works by their director, Peter Brown, and composer, Cheryl Camm, who sings in the choir. Both works were skilfully crafted, substantial pieces which stood up well among the classical works of the programme and provided an inspiring and exciting contrast.

While by no means straightforward, these two new works were performed with great conviction, as one might expect from a choir of this calibre coached by the composers. 

Advent Concert 2014

December 30, 2014

There was a large audience of enthusiasts for the Rock Festival Choir’s Advent concert on Sunday 30th November.  This increasingly popular event is becoming an overture to the Christmas season that many in and around Alnwick look forward to each year.  And no wonder!  The choir always delivers a stunning performance of carols in contrasting styles, some well-known but newly-arranged and some completely new.  It is a joy to leave the hectic pre-Christmas rush outside and enter the beautiful surroundings of St Paul’s Church for an hour of pure beauty on a Sunday afternoon.  A highlight of the concert for me was Richard Allain’s setting of the Coventry Carol, which depicts in harrowing music the anguish and resignation of mothers after their children have been massacred.  This subject has been described all too graphically in European art, but never, I believe, so near the bone as in this carol.  The faces of the singers expressed the horror and grief.  They were clearly fully engaged in what they were singing about. 

 

The next carol by Gustav Holst, shifted to the warmth and tenderness of mother Mary singing to her sleeping child and evoked a sense of mystery and wonder.  Time to reflect was provided as Peter Hignett played a tuneful jaunty processional piece by the Welsh composer, William Mathias.  The choir benefits greatly from Peter’s skill, not only as soloist, but underpinning many of the carols throughout the programme.  The Christian story of the Nativity featured in many different ways. 

 

At the end of the concert Peter Warlock’s Bethlehem Down cast the mind forward to the events of Easter with some very sensitive singing from the choir, before the mood changed to one of rejoicing in William Mathias’, Bell Carol,

 

It becomes easy to take for granted that this choir aims for perfection.  They are so dignified and expressive in performance.  They come together from many walks of life with a shared desire to produce the best, and their achievement is remarkable.

 

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© Rock Festival Choir | Photography © Sheila Hignett/Andy Watchorn