On setting off to Haddo for the first performance of this year’s festival, I can honestly say that a number of us thought two hours of Mendelssohn choral music, in the form of his Elijah oratorio, might be a bit of a musical marathon.

How wrong we were. Conducted with great vigour and expertise by Dr Paul Tierney, the Haddo House Choral Society was in great form and brought great enthusiasm, commitment and top quality singing to the fore.

With the choir accompanied by a full orchestra, we found ourselves swept along with the sheer vitality and emotional impact of the music. The ‘Choral’ is moving with the times, bringing new ideas into the format so that the four extremely talented soloists stood on a low podium just feet away from the audience rather than far away up on the stage.

Another inspiring aspect was the way in which Paul Tierney brought in members from the Choral Society. As Alan Cooper so rightly said in his review, (link to it)  ‘ The quintet of female voices from the chorus were fantastic, led by a soprano with the marvellous name of Toto Coxe and supported by Nina MacDonald-Lewis, Cat Lawson, Fenella Strachan and Phyllis Garden. They gave us another high point in the performance.’

I particularly enjoyed the way Niall Anderson (bass-baritone) and Samuel Jenkins (tenor) brought highly expressive body language into their performances. It reminded us that this music is all about an episode in the Bible of great dramatic importance as Elijah, the fiery Hebrew prophet weighs in on a God vs the Pagans scenario. The drama of the situation was very effectively conveyed by everyone involved.

Clearly, the Haddo House Choral Society is in fine voice and another chance to hear them will be at the annual carol services in December. (link) . If those performances are anything like Elijah, you’ll be buzzing and full of positive energy and ready to tune into the festive spirit.

 

Lucy Gordon

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