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Our most recent concert was in Carlisle Cathedral, on Saturday 20th April 2024 at 7.30.p.m.

Cumbria Singers performed works by Gabriel Fauré (Requiem and Cantique de Jean Racine) and Edward Elgar (The Music Makers) . The concert was conducted by Andrew Padmore, who had been the 2023-24 Music Director.
The choir was accompanied by the British Sinfonietta and Ed Taylor the organist.
The soloists were Molly Cochrane (Soprano); Gaynor Keeble (Mezzo Soprano); Ben Davies (Baritone) .

Juliet Rowcroft, an independent reviewer, wrote:

‘Elgar’s The Music Makers, challenging to perform and relatively unfamiliar compared to his best-known works, was a courageous opening choice for the annual concert given by this choir of 100 singers. They definitely rose to the occasion.
I for one did not know the work but intriguingly it contains several unmistakeable references to Elgar’s previous works including Enigma Variations and the Dream of Gerontius, so the listener could partake in a game of ‘spot the tune’.
Conductor Andrew Padmore achieved a most convincing performance of this complex work which is full of Elgar’s characteristic shifts in tempo, dynamics and key as the music reflects the constantly changing emotions evoked by the words of Ode by poet Arthur O’Shaughnessy. This poem extols the messianic role of creative artists (‘the music makers, the dreamers of dreams’) and acknowledges the artist’s need for courage as the outsider whose vision is not yet recognised. The British Sinfonietta and the Cumbria Singers responded with energy, vibrancy and lyricism as required; so indeed did the splendid guest soloist, mezzo soprano Gaynor Keeble.
It was a pity, although perhaps inevitable, that Elgar’s full-blown orchestration meant that her delivery was briefly dominated by the full-volume brass and timpani. Otherwise the rich quality of her powerful voice was perfect for this piece. The chorus brought this monumental work to a most impressive close as the opening lines are repeated even more slowly and quietly finishing with Elgar’s marking pppp. I imagine, for the chorus members at least, the second half of the programme brought a feeling of ‘now we are on familiar ground’ with Fauré’s much-loved setting of the Requiem. Nevertheless, this work’s mainly restrained and contemplative mood brings its own challenges in terms of the breath control needed in held notes and extended melodic lines. This was ably achieved by the choir including the many sections for sopranos or tenors alone.
Fauré (like Elgar too) had been a professional organist and it is the organ role, so ably played on this occasion by Edward Taylor, which reminds us that we are, in effect, at a church service and not in a concert hall. The British Sinfonietta continued to delight with some beautiful playing of Fauré’s flowing melodies, notably in the lower string sections and harp , as well as with thrilling chords from the brass section, for example in the Sanctus.
Guest baritone Ben Davies sang with lovely tone and achieved perfect balance with the orchestra. The brief role (only four minutes approximately) given to the solo soprano comes in the well-known Pie Jesu. Molly Cochrane’s pure and almost boy chorister-like quality of voice seemed to me quite perfect here. Like the Music Makers the Requiem ends in the quietest way possible, fading ultimately into silence. We were finally offered one more treat, almost an encore, in Fauré’s setting of the prayer known as the Cantique de Jean Racine. This brief gem, by the 19 year old composer, brought a memorable concert to a fitting close.

The choir were asked to describe their experience of singing in the Cathedral in three words.
Their feedback included:

Special- challenging- a privilege Exhilarating- enjoyable – uplifting Fabulous- privilege- awesome Awesome-uplifting-enjoyable Thrilling – powerful- amazing Thrilling- overwhelming- loud Momentous- Electrifying- Moving Today was thrilling!

As the following comments show, the audience enjoyed it too: :

My husband and I very much enjoyed the concert on Saturday night, the pieces chosen were beautiful, and the orchestra, choir and soloists were all excellent. Sarah Whittingham Congratulations on a wonderful Event at the Cathedral on Saturday 20th April! What a superb evening!The Orchestra and Singers combined – just fabulous! Such a powerful, evocative and ethereal experience. Mum and I loved it! A huge well done to you all and congratulations. I hope you were all very proud of your achievements. Liesl McViety


2023 Concert to be inserted


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