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ALBION - Spring Song with Albion at Holy Trinity Church

Location: England, United Kingdom

3 May 2014: Spring Songs with Albion, Holy Trinity Church

06/05/2014 reviewed in Classical Sheffield

Bernard Lee

Heard three times, this was not a concert to be at if you had an aversion to Parry’s Jerusalem.

Holy Trinity is not a big church, neither is it a small one and was packed, the assemblage lustily letting rip on the third occasion to end the concert.

It was a captive audience and the surprise was the size of it. For a choir barely two years old, Albion has built a large following and it was not too difficult to appreciate how.

On this occasion, comprising eight personable singers (five female, three male), nine when director, composer/ arranger, pianist and ebullient compere Fraser Wilson joined them, a sense of spontaneity and sincerity was evident, despite the familiarity of much the music.

Further, vocal accuracy was outstanding, not always perfectly executed perhaps, but such can happen live even with a conductor. Albion does not employ one, which adds to immediacy with its audience, and all is sung from memory, often unaccompanied!

Many of the 20 items, including such well known pieces, shorn of overt sentimentality, as Scarborough Fair, My Love is Like a Red Rose, Danny Boy, The Skye Boat Song, were set with a soloist, or soloists, all of whom were generally excellent.

The other singers provided choral backing, sometimes vocalising the melody, at others singing the words. It may have been the material, but there was an underlying folksy feel. 

For the most part, Wilson’s arrangements did not make undue technical demands on his singers, but was not afraid to test them with chromaticism and dissonance in his setting of Vidi aquam and arrangement of A Gaelic Blessing (trad. Irish).

He is imaginative, if not daring, judging by the opening piece, Jerusalem!  Set in canon as a crescendo, it just about came off as the eight singers emerged separately voicing it from the back of the church.