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    'Wonderfully Expressive' Performance of Handel's Messiah

    Just before the end of the Spring Term, current and former pupils, parents and staff together with members of the local community joined a professional orchestra and soloists in a superb performance of Handel's Messiah.

    Just before the end of the Spring Term, current and former pupils, parents and staff together with members of the local community joined a professional orchestra and soloists in a superb performance of Handel's Messiah.

    It was the annual choral concert by the School's Senior Choir and the Kimbolton Singers.  Our thanks go to Mr Bill Skinner for his review, below: 

    “I thought I saw all Heaven before me” wrote Handel of the composition of Messiah, which he completed in a remarkable 24 days in 1741. Maybe our age is more agnostic than Handel’s, but that is no barrier to our enjoyment of this magnificent oratorio: surely there is no other choral work that expresses the Christian faith so majestically? 
     
    Bringing Handel’s inspired account of the story of Jesus from the prophesies to the passion and the resurrection was the task of conductor David Gibbs, the Kimbolton School Senior Choir, the Kimbolton Singers and Orchestra and four professional soloists.  In two hours of exuberant music, these more than 150 musicians gave a wonderfully expressive performance of forty pieces, all sung with clarity and conviction. The items ranged from the full-throated certainties of “And the Glory of the Lord”, “Unto us a child is born” and the Hallelujah chorus, to the urgent and vigorous rhythms of “Lift up your heads” and the assertive “Behold the Lamb of God”, these full-chorus pieces interspersed with the intensely dramatic work of the soloists, from the poignancy of the alto’s “He was despised” to the affirmation of the bass’s “The trumpet shall sound”, with many other pieces of real beauty in between, most notably in the soprano and alto air “He shall feed his flock”. Everyone in the audience will have had their favourites amongst the forty pieces presented – and yes, we appreciated their stamina as well as their other musical qualities.
     
    David Gibbs, in his programme notes, identified among the many virtues of the School’s annual choral concert the opportunity it gives to pupils to perform great music, especially in the company of a professional orchestra and soloists (on this occasion, soprano Ailsa Mainwaring, alto Alison Langer, tenor Robin Bailey and bass David Ireland). I know from singers in the local community how much they value sharing this musical experience with the School. The Chorus ranged a great deal in both age (I estimate from 13 to over 70) and experience, but all combined with a high degree of discipline, and clearly with the highest regard for their conductor. The orchestra, of course, knew just when and how to assert and (just as important) when and how to hold back: nobody will forget the spectacular trumpeting of Jon MacDominic or the achingly poignant accompaniment to the soloists of the first violin (Martin Hughes), cellist James Jarvis and organist Ian Clarke. The timpanist (Matthew Butler) was nearest to me, and the temptation to produce a huge drum roll at the end of the Hallelujah Chorus and the final Amen must have been hard to resist: but, like the other performers, there was nothing showy in him, and all contributed to the overall musical effect. As a measure of the camaraderie of the evening, it was good to see all four soloists joining in some choral items with such gusto.
     
    Just occasionally, when I used to mark an exceptional English essay, I would write “(e.g.) Jane Austen would have enjoyed this”. And so with Messiah: Handel would surely have approved! 
     
    More photographs of the evening are in our photo gallery.