On Saturday, November 15, at Lancaster University, an impressive concert took place which appropriately reflected the current memorials for the First World War.
The event was also a first in that the Haffner Orchestra joined with the Lancaster Singers to mark this special yet sad time in history.
The combined concert included Brahms’ Song of Destiny, Nänie (Song of Lamentation), How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings (from the Requiem) and Haydn’s Mass in Time of War.
The musical interpretation, conducted with real expression and passion by Marco Fanti, immediately conveyed the calm but melancholic atmosphere of the Song of Lamentation.
Good balance between the voices and instrumentalists with woodwind and oboe in particular, created some highly emotive and dramatic moments.
In the other pieces by Brahms, again the choir and orchestra worked well together to set the mood of tragedy and loss in times of war.
Particularly poignant moments included the sombre entries of the timpani and striking sudden fortissimo entries in the trumpets in the Brahms Song of Destiny.
Occasionally, the tenors and basses needed to give a little more support to balance the upper voices and add to the dramatic effect.
In the second half, Justin Doyle conducted the joint enterprise in a superb performance of Haydn’s Mass in Times of War.
From the outset, this interpretation had pace, sheer musicality and clear direction, moving us through the changing atmosphere of the mass-parts with a religious dignity worthy of the sacred text.
The four vocal soloists Laurie Ashworth, Sarah Jillian Cox, Christopher Steele and David Rees – Jones enhanced the performance further by their beautifully flowing, clear and expressive melodic lines adding the finishing touch to what was a truly masterly interpretation and rendition by Maestro Justin Doyle, the Haffner Orchestra and the Lancaster singers.