In the spirit of transparency, I ought to mention that I was invited to attend this concert by a lovely colleague of mine who sings in the Ad Libitum choir, so the chances are that I was going to enjoy myself, being able to support him.
This is the second Ad Libitum recital I have been to now, in all honesty I rarely know the music (being more familiar with classical orchestral works than vocal arrangements) but I always leave having learned something new, and enjoyed myself thoroughly.
Let’s start with the venue itself – a curious blend of history and modernity following a post-war rebuild – the latest in a long line of corrective restructuring including being completely destroyed and rebuit following the Great Fire of London. Fantastic acoustics in the church which famously is the measuring point from which people ascertain whether they are a true cockney.
The choir is an auditioned amateur choir and typically perform 3 or 4 times a year, with a mixture of secular and sacred music, ranging from early Renaissance to modern composers – all ably conducted by Julian Collings and accompanied by Colin Spinks on what is a truly impressive church organ on display at the back of the hall.
On this occasion, the organ and choir were joined by harpist Daniel De-Fry and James Bower on percussion, as they took as through a set which included West Side Story composer Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, and Missa Brevis by Zoltán Kodály.
For me, however, the highlight of the evening was a choral representation of Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings – I have often enjoyed listening to the orchestral piece, but had never before heard the choral Agnus Dei version. What an immense joy! I’ve discovered that the piece is so soothing in either form and it’s one I look forward to listening to again and again.
Every visit to see this choir has brought me something new to take away – do keep a look out for future dates, it’s guaranteed to give you two hours of soul nourishment and add to your musical education.
Details of upcoming concerts can be found on the Ad Libitum website.