Louth Choral Society

Established before 1836

"... listening was pure joy."

Review: Winter Words, Louth Choral Society at St James’ Church in Louth

By Trevor Ekins Grimsby Telegraph 26 November 2013

This concert offered a musical reflection upon two men connected by a single date, November 22, the centennial of a birth and the 50th anniversary of an assassination.

The link between Benjamin Britten and John F Kennedy, one a composer and the other a politician, in some respects embraces the circle of life.

Take Him, Earth, For Cherishing, composed by Herbert Howells for a memorial service in Washington on the first anniversary of Kennedy’s death, ensured a powerful and emotive opening to this concert.

Based upon the translation of a fourth century poem, it is a demanding and challenging composition sung a cappella, yet Louth Choral Society, under their musical director Martin Pickering, did not falter.

Winter Words offered Britten’s musical setting of eight poems by Thomas Hardy.

Mark Wilde (tenor) sang these with perfect enunciation and great sensitivity while Steven Billinger’s piano accompaniment provided a sense of atmosphere, for example, the illusion of a pounding steam train during Midnight On The Great Western.

Britten’s cantata, St Nicholas, explores the man who was Bishop of Myra and the myths and legends that evolved around the person we think of as Santa Claus.

An impressive array of guests accompanied Louth Choral Society in this commanding performance. They included Mark Wilde, Steven Billinger, members of the Gallery Choir from the University Of Huddersfield, a trio of choristers from Grimsby Minster and members of Lincolnshire Chamber Orchestra.

Throughout the contrasting nine movements, they captured the drama, the lightness, the darkness and the celebration; listening was pure joy.