Christmas Carols and Chorales at Canongate Kirk
Come and join St Andrew Camerata for their annual festive concert at Canongate Kirk. This year's programme is directed by Kenneth Taylor and features John Kitchen on the organ. The evening will include performances of Bach chorales, Fantasia on Christmas Carols by Vaughan Williams, and a selection of Christmas favourites.
Tickets available from the Usher Hall Box Office: https://www.usherhall.co.uk/whats-on/christmas-carols-and-chorales
Three Weeks Edinburgh - Review of Concert: 10 August 2019
"This prettily lit church was the pleasing setting for one of the most popular choral works in the repertoire. Heavenly associations were further enhanced by a harp in the orchestra – potentially unnerving in a mass for the dead – that left us in no doubt that orchestra is more poetic than organ. Horns announced the last trumpet in the ‘Dies irae’ and the choir’s authoritative entry demonstrated that this was indeed the “day of wrath”. The entry into ‘Lux Aeterna V’ was a silken thread linking it to the ‘Agnus Dei’ – floating in the air with unhurried accuracy, perfectly timed and very beautiful. Baritone soloist Roderick Bryce’s voice had depth and richness. Never attended a classical concert? Try this."
Edinburgh Guide - Review of Concert: 11 August 2018
"This was an absolutely outstanding recital, which held the audience spellbound throughout. We began with the ‘Cantique de Jean Racine’, which was faultlessly legato, and as silky as it was expressive in its enchanting performance.
St Patrick’s seemed to be the ideal venue for the occasion, the candlelit church providing such stillness and beauty for the music performed. That most of the audience were therefore unable to entirely see the performers’ faces meant that our attention was solely focused on the music and the atmosphere; the only thing in the church picked out especially by lighting was the scene of the crucifixion above the high altar, which was especially fitting for the Requiem. Otherwise the flickering of the candles at the votive stands and around the perimeter enfolded us entirely and rightly within the music itself.
The Requiem, the substantive part of the recital, was exquisitely executed under the direction of Vincent Wallace. This was the more authentic early version, in an edition by John Rutter. Although the St Andrew Camerata have performed this work on many occasions before, there was a freshness and vibrancy about it, that was altogether captivating. It is very difficult to pick out any part of the Requiem as deserving of more praise than the other, but few will have heard the Pie Jesu and In Paradisum sections performed to such a high quality before. Also of particular note was how well balanced the ensemble was throughout; all parts – instrumental and vocal – were entirely complementary of one another, both at moments of depth and richness, and also at times of delicacy and intricacy.
The encore for the evening was ‘L’Hymne a la nuit’ by Jean-Philippe Rameau. Sung unaccompanied, this is usually a quiet piece, but sung with such exceptional softness on this occasion; indeed, you could have heard a pin drop in the audience! The only disappointing about this performance … was that it had to end – the performance finished at 11.00pm."
Broadway Baby - Review of Concert: 9 August 2014
"Faure's Requiem, composed in the late 1880s, is a short piece lasting 35 minutes, performed in Latin, and created for orchestra, organ, male and female chorus and two soloists, soprano and baritone. Tonight’s concert is one of the mainstays of the Fringe and has been captivating audiences for years - this year followed by Cantique de Jean Racine, one of Fauré’s earlier works.
Impressively, the many singers and instruments (including a harp and the church's own organ) all came through clearly, with nothing swamping anything else.
Having been leading his St Andrew Camerata through performances of Fauré's Requiem - intermittently - since 2006, it comes as no great surprise to see how confidently Vincent Wallace helms this performance. It is also good to see that time and repetition has not diminished his enthusiasm for the piece, nor for performing it: he leads con brio, expressing the music's ebbs and flows in his facial expressions and very mobile body language. This in turn galvanises the many singers and the small ensemble of nine musicians, all of whom served to make this a delightful evening.
The church's acoustics also help this, gelling the voices and instruments so that they sound appropriately divine. Special mention should go to the soprano, whose rendition of the aria Pie Jesu was goose-pimply good. The church's interior is charming, set off - on this night - by a host of candles, of varying sizes, all flickering gently along to the music. While the "stage" lights somewhat diminished this effect, it was certainly an evocative (and non-gimmicky) addition to the music's own charms.
Impressively, the many singers and instruments (including a harp and the church's own organ) all came through clearly, with nothing swamping anything else. I'd guess this to be - again - a consideration of Wallace's; if so, kudos to him for managing to ensure such a harmonious and dynamically satisfying performance and, of course, to the singers and musicians, for aiding in this endeavour.
It's a pleasure to hear instruments and voices totally acoustically, especially in such acoustically satisfying surroundings. Add to this the choice of music and the "by candlelight" staging and you can easily see why this has been such a consistently successful concert, both in terms of content and size of audience."