Abbey packed out for St Albans Organ Festival opener

WITH an assurance one has grown to expect, the St Albans Bach Choir staged the opening concert of the International Organ Festival at St Albans on Saturday. Singing in a packed St Albans Abbey the choir, under its music director Andrew Lucas, enthralled i

WITH an assurance one has grown to expect, the St Albans Bach Choir staged the opening concert of the International Organ Festival at St Albans on Saturday.

Singing in a packed St Albans Abbey the choir, under its music director Andrew Lucas, enthralled its audience with outstanding performances of Poulenc's Gloria and Brahms' German Requiem

In the Poulenc Gloria the choir and Sinfonia Verdi, who supported them, were joined by soprano Julie Kennard for a performance which demonstrated fine musical craftsmanship.

Andrew Lucas handled the difficult conjugations between choir and soloist with great finesse, making them completely seamless. Sinfonia Verdi also gave a fine performance throughout.


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The second work of the evening was a performance by former St Pauls Cathedral organist John Scott of Poulenc's fine Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani.

Now organist and director of music at St Thomas's, Fifth Avenue, New York, and a member of the jury at the festival's competitions, his performance was one of the highlights of the evening. He demonstrated exactly what a concerto should be - an equal partnership between the orchestra and the soloist. Throughout the sometimes fiery, sometimes austere work John Scott never let the organ dominate even though, since its rebuild, it appears more powerful than ever.

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This was a performance which will surely be regarded as one of the finest in this, the 25th festival.

But the performance of the Brahms Requiem which followed left little to be desired Andrew Lucas once more showed his outstanding skill at managing a large choir and the members responded brilliantly to his challenge.

Soprano Julie Kennard and bass-baritone Michael George added their own qualities to this outstanding performance and throughout the entire evening Sinfonia Verdi gave the highest level of support to the event, helping to produce a memorable evening of music.

JOHN MANNING

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