The Renaissance Choir’s concert in Petersfield on Saturday was not its first since the ending of Covid restrictions, but it was the first that I’d attended. It was good to hear that its renowned musicianship and sound world had survived two years of various lockdowns.
Entitled ‘English Renaissance Masters’, much of the programme was built around movements from various Mass settings by William Byrd, and included works by Tallis, Dering and Dowland – amongst others.
A particular highlight for me was the Stabat Mater by Felice Anerio, which was included in this programme as he was the Maestro di cappella at the English College in Rome. Scored for three choirs, the antiphonal effects were thrilling – as was the rhythmic and incisive singing, all the more remarkable as the choir were a number of singers down due to the recent wave of infections.
Much of the second part of the programme comprised secular music performed as a staged tableau and this provided a perfect foil to the sacred works. It also gave the opportunity for several of the choir’s solo voices to be heard – and I especially enjoyed Author of Light by Thomas Campion. Here, alto Melissa Wingfield was accompanied on guitar by Zoe Barnett.
Earlier in the concert, Zoe had played solos by Dowland and Bach, where she demonstrated, through deft fingerwork and full tone, a very fine technique and stage presence.
Peter Gambie prepares his singers well and directed proceedings with clarity and a well-judged sense of musical pace.
And some informal feedback:
Melissa’s solo was absolutely gorgeous and filled with lovely emotion and musicality. The guitar accompaniment fitted it perfectly, too.
In addition, the audience raised £662 for the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal.