As part of the Charles Wesley 300th anniversary clecebrations the well-known Bristol choral group Exultate Singers presented a programme of music covering this anniversary and also that of the 150th year since Edward Elgar’s birth.
In the delightful and historic setting of the New Room, Jubilate by David Ogden, the charismatic conductor, was a lively introduction with its interesting harmony.
A selection of Samuel Wesley’s choral music followed in which the choir excelled with its disciplined singing.
Richard Johnson played a piece by Thomas Arne on the 18th century organ before the choir introduced a new work written by one of its members, Ian Carpenter: a worthwhile composition with its subtle harmony.
Two well-known anthems by S.S. Wesley, known as the grandfather of choral music, included Ascribe unto the Lord which is comparable to a music oratorio. The pure tone of the sopranos was once again a high feature of the performances.
The second half consisted of more modern items with 5 contrasting songs by Elgar and pieces by Finzi and John Ireland. In a group of three songs, Martin Le Poidevin expressively used his fine baritone voice.
Two more organ pieces by Charles Wesley Junior were sensitively played by Richard Johnson before the choir gave one of their perennial favourites, the irresistible And so it goes, before finishing with two spirituals.
John Packwood, Bristol Evening Post, 28 May 2007
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