The Swan Singers,

Giggleswick Chapel

ONCE again Giggleswick Chapel proved to be an idyllic venue for a concert of this nature, the acoustics are superb for choral singing and the location lends itself to celebrating sacred music.

The statue of King Edward VI over the door of the building being particularly apt in a programme which contained pieces from the Tudor period including the composition by Thomas Tallis, If Ye Love Me, which reflected the traditions of church music during his reign.

The contrast in music in Tudor times was a consequence of the religious upheavals but this certainly added a frisson to the programme with the simplicity of the Protestant If Ye Love Me, where the emphasis was on the clarity of the text, with the more ornate complexity found in the Catholic style as represented by Ave Maria by Robert Parsons and Ascendit Deus by Peter Philips.

The choir however, seemed at ease with both styles and while the former highlighted their purity of tone and wonderful diction the latter transported the audience to another time by the sense of otherworldliness which it created.

Other pieces in the programme equally reflected the concerns of the periods of their creation, such as in Greater Love by John Ireland, where the melancholy pre-empted the turmoil of The Great War. Expressive and dramatic, the music was wide and varied in both tone and content but always performed at the very highest level.

Incorporated into the programme were three stunning organ solos, a wonderful showcase for the choir’s accompanist Julian McNamara. These too covered a range of periods and styles but in doing so demonstrated not only the instrument’s tremendous versatility but also the extensive skills of the organist.

This truly was a spectacular evening, with an amazing selection of pieces sung with passion and pleasure and outstanding attention to detail.

- Gill O’Donnell