You Are the Music – The Joy Chorale, Braddell Heights Symphony Orchestra

REQUIEM FOR THE LIVING
Dan Forrest

YOU ARE THE MUSIC
Dan Forrest

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
Howard Goodall

LOVE DIVINE
Howard Goodall

FOR THE BEAUTY OF THE EARTH
John Rutter

ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL
John Rutter

LET THERE BE PEACE ON EARTH

The Joy Chorale
Khor Ai Ming, conductor

Sunday, 7 May 2017, 5pm
School of the Arts (SOTA) Concert Hall

Review by Derek Lim

The Joy Chorale exists largely as the Braddell Heights Symphony Orchestra’s accompanying choir. Made up mostly of untrained singers, the fifty-odd large ensemble first performed in Beethoven’s Ninth in 2015 (hence, ‘Joy’), joining the BHSO late last year in Carmina Burana.

This evening, conducted in full by choirmistress Khor Ai Meng (right), was the Chorale’s show, with the BHSO accompanying in the first half and pianist Bertrand Lee taking over after the intermission. In the main billed work, Dan Forrest’s 40 minute ‘Requiem for the Living’, the choir performed sensitively under Khor, accompanied by twenty-one members of the orchestra. Khor’s crystal clear directions and work with the choir paid dividends, with generally sound choral technique and good pitching.  Swooping and scooping were kept at bay, though more ‘bite’ and articulation would have made this outing even more successful.

The work itself, tuneful and recognisably American despite its Latin text, was cinematically haunting and reminiscent of Rutter in parts. Orchestration was simple, with the prominent horn in the Kyrie played winningly by Marcus Ng. Khor acquitted herself well in one of her rare orchestral outings. Playing to her choir’s strengths, she kept away from extremes of tempi and in general kept a good balance between choir and orchestra. Especially enjoyable was the energetic and colourful ‘Sanctus’, of which the composer wrote ‘offers three different glimpses of the ‘heavens and earth, full of Thy glory’, but which for this reviewer was more evocative of plains and wide, open spaces. The soloists, both students of Khor, sang beautifully, with Kira Lim’s dark, creamy soprano a confident foil for 12-year old Elliot Koh’s ethereal boy soprano.

The following half, made up mostly of Anglican-Christian hymns, featured songs by John Rutter, including the well-known ‘For the Beauty and the Earth’ and ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’, as well as BBC presenter Howard Goodall in ‘The Lord is My Shepherd’ and ‘Love Divine’. Dan Forrest’s titular ‘You are the Music’ had Marcus Ng return on the horn, and soprano Cheryl Bain’s lovely lyric voice shown off to good effect here.

In all, a lovely evening of easy-listening.

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