St James Priory Opening Concert

Evening Post review

Exhilarating performance

THE Priory was officially reopened on July 25, 2011 after its conservation and redevelopment plan which had taken two years. It was perhaps appropriate the excellent Exultate Singers should present the reopening concert as it was in 2002 after their formation that they broadcast Sunday Worship in September of that year from this venue.

With their tour to Spain imminent the first half was dominated by Spanish Renaissance music. Particularly effective with its lush harmonies was Ascendente in naviculum by Giaches de Wert and the choir lived up to their reputation with some wonderfully controlled singing.

This was also the case by the better known Victoria, who is chiefly remembered for his mystical and poignant church music. Amongst the three items chosen was a Magnificat in which the singers were spread around the building. The second half concentrated on the history of Bristol and its maritime past covering music from 15th century to the present day. Hubert Parry's Crossing the Bar prompted my companion to remark that this was the ultimate performance that could not be bettered.

After the conductor's poignant We will remember them, two items written by members of the choir included Ian Carpenter's And when the builders with its unusual harmonies.

This superb concert in front of a packed audience ended with a hushed and effective version of Be still my soul.

JOHN PACKWOOD