An Evening at the Opera

Click to view programmeSaturday 10th May 2014 – Assembly Hall Theatre

Arias and Choruses from the Operas


Simona Mihai (soprano) & Luis Gomes (tenor)
RWCS Chorus and Orchestra – leader Jane Gomm
conducted by Rebecca Miller

No review available – click on image to view programme

If Music be the Food of Love

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15th March 2014 in the Jubilee Theatre – Holmewood House School, Langton Green

Informal concert celebrating the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth.
Brahms – Liebeslieder and Neue Liebeslieder
with Anthony Zerpa-Falcon * Jong-Gyung Park, piano duet

Rebecca Miller – RTWCS conductor

No review available – click on image to view programme

Christmas Concert

Click to view programme14th December 2013 in St Mary’s Parish Church, Goudhurst

including Britten – A Ceremony of Carols
with Anna Wynne – harp
Jefrey Gray – organ
Wadhurst Brass Band
– conductor Algy Hoare.
Rebecca Miller – RTWCS conductor

No review available – click on image to view programme
Download words of audience carols.

Poulenc, Fauré, & Mendelssohn – with Chloë Hanslip

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10th November 2013 in the Assembly Hall

Poulenc – Gloria
Mendelssohn – Violin Concerto in E minor
Fauré – Requiem

RTWCS choir & orchestra – leader Jane Gomm,with
Chloë Hanslipviolin
Charlotte Mobbs soprano
Neil Baker – baritone

Conductor Rebecca Miller

We received two reviews of this concert:
How good it was to see the Assembly Halls packed and buzzing with excitement for this, the first concert of the choral society’s 110th season.  The anticipation was certainly justified by a very well balanced programme of French choral music surrounding Mendelssohn’s much-loved violin concerto, featuring the internationally renowned soloist, Chloë Hanslip.

Opening the concert with Poulenc’s Gloria was a brave decision, for it is a challenging piece to bring off, but it made a splendid season opener.  The contrasting moods, by turns fervent, melodious, uninhibited and sensuous, were well captured under Rebecca Miller’s decisive and clear direction.  The contrasting moods, by turns fervent, melodious, uninhibited and sensuous, were well captured under Rebecca Miller’s decisive and clear direction. The orchestra launched the opening section with gusto and precision, and the choir was similarly energetic throughout.  The choral entries sounded confident, aside from one or two exposed unaccompanied passages, and the rhythmic and harmonic twists were well managed.  Charlotte Mobbs gave an impressively controlled and beautifully tuned account of the solo soprano part, especially in the concluding “Qui sedes” section which eventually brings the piece to a perhaps surprisingly gentle conclusion.

The orchestra shone again in the concerto, especially in the opening movement, which was very well co-ordinated with the soloist and contained some lovely playing from all sections.  This piece, however, belonged to Chloë Hanslip, who brought to the solo part a wonderful combination of brilliance and poetry.  It was good to hear her unapologetically strong sound and exuberant, well projected bravura contrasting with passages of hushed intensity.  The slow movement was poised and lyrical, demonstrating the obvious rapport between soloist and conductor, while the fizzing finale was played with both technical aplomb and delicacy, bringing a memorable performance to a satisfying conclusion.

After the interval came a change of mood, as the serenity of Fauré’s masterpiece took over the hall.  Even though this was an interpretation which used the full orchestral version of the requiem to make the most of the occasional dynamic contrasts, the lasting impression was quite rightly of the gentle and contemplative nature of Fauré’s conception.  Neil Baker gave us a quietly dramatic, clearly enunciated “Libera me”, with every word telling effectively.  Charlotte Mobbs returned to sing the “Pie Jesu” with clear tone and lovely sustained legato.  The choir responded well to their conductor’s gestures, with alert and precise singing, well supported again by the orchestra.  Some tiredness was occasionally evident in the tuning, especially in the difficult “Offertoire”, but the tone and diction were generally very good.  More tenors would surely have been welcome in their solo lines, but otherwise I felt that the internal balance of the choir was fine throughout and served the music well.  The closing “In Paradisum”, in particular, was lovely and provided just the right sense of radiant calm to end a fine afternoon’s music making and an excellent start to the choir’s new season.

©Roland Millar

The latest offering in the concert season of RTWCS was poignantly on Remembrance Sunday. Under director Rebecca Miller’s dynamic baton, the choir’s first challenge was Poulenc’s Gloria, an immensely appealing work. In some sections it is hauntingly religious, it is also tinged with mischievous irreverence and a sense of fun. ‘When I wrote this piece’, Poulenc famously recalled, ‘I had in mind those frescoes by Gozzoli where the angels stick out their tongues; and also some serious Benedictine monks I had once seen reveling in a game of football.’

The opening of the Gloria had crisp rhythms and Miller brought to the music a great sense of style and grandeur. Of course with Poulenc the Baroque dotted rhythms sit along side jazzy chords and the most worldly of opulent orchestration which she brought out in her players and singers.

The lightness of delivery in the Laudamus te and relentlessness given  to the Domine Fili unigenite (punctuated acerbically by riffs of theGloria music in the orchestra) were likewise particularly striking. If some choir chording suffered a little from a lack of precision at times and the men were a little underpowered, this certainly didn’t affect the audience’s enjoyment of the performance. Mention must be made of the fantastic Charlotte Mobbs – soprano in this piece whose great tone and line was mesmerising.

Chloë Hanslip, the international violinist joined with the orchestra in an ebullient performance of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. Capricious and soulful Hanslip’s playing was technically and artistically spot on, capturing the nuances of this piece. For once the crystal clear acoustic of the Assembly Hall allowed the enchanted audience to really hear all the details in the score. Hanslip’s rapport with Miller was intuitive and Miller encouraged the orchestra to play its best it seemed by sheer physical presence. It was a wonderful end to the first half.

Charlotte Mobbs returned with baritone Neil Baker for the Fauré  Requiem after the interval. The choir were on more familiar territory here. They showed confidence in Agnus Dei and the Hosanna in the Sanctus. Baker’s Libera me was rich and melodious and the ethereal In Paradisum was well judged and a fitting ending to this enterprising programme. Well done RTWCS!!

©Adrian Pitts