Story added:  7:30am Thu Dec 29, 2016
Review: Left exhilarated by a rousing Messiah chorus
Friday 23rd December, 2016 - Newark Parish Church
Review: Left exhilarated by a rousing Messiah chorus
Handel's Messiah
Benjamin Williamson. Photograph: Rocco Redondo.
A large crowd filled the Parish Church of St Mary Magdalene on Friday for a performance of Handel’s great oratorio, Messiah.

This was the inaugural concert promoted by the Magdalene Arts Foundation, a new organisation committed to promoting the arts in the historic town centre church.

The foundation had assembled a virtuoso set of performers.

Premier billing went to the famous bass, Alastair Miles, on his first visit to Newark.

His cavernous voice projected richly into the building, competing ably with the trumpet in the famous aria The Trumpet Shall Sound.

Benjamin Williamson — who replaced the ill countertenor Robin Blaze — proved more than capable, wowing the audience with daringly virtuosic ornamentation in But Who May Abide, yet finding a tender lyricism in He Was Despised.

Emily Rowley Jones, a soprano visiting from the Royal Opera House, made her voice soar into the roof spaces in a bright-toned and agile Rejoice.

The tenor was Mark Wilde, who set the scene with a cream-toned Comfort Ye, before revelling in the drama of Thou Shalt Dash Them In Pieces.

The choruses were sung by Ferdinand’s Consort. This semi-professional group was small in number, but filled the building with sound to glorious effect.

The tenors in particular projected with real bite and commitment.

The orchestra was Musica Donum Dei. Playing on period instruments, they crafted each and every phrase with musicianship and understanding.

The entire ensemble was held together by Dr Stephen Bullamore, the church’s director of music.

Working with such high class musicians, he drew out of the performers an exceptionally dramatic reading of the famous work.

The audience were moved to stand in emulation of King George II for the Hallelujah chorus, delivered in an exhilarating fashion by the assembled company.

The Magdalene Arts Foundation is to be congratulated on bringing such a high calibre of music-making to Newark and we look forward to further concerts promoted by the organisation.
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