Searing voices in Holbeach church make epics hit the target

Robin Carter conducts the South Holland Singers who were in concert at All Saints Church, Holbeach.
Robin Carter conducts the South Holland Singers who were in concert at All Saints Church, Holbeach.

CONCERT REVIEW: South Holland Singers, Lincolnshire Chamber Orchestra, Carrie-Ann Williams (soprano) and James Geidt (bass), All Saint’s Church, Holbeach

A concert fit for a king and queen took place at All Saints’ Church, Holbeach, on Saturday night.

The South Holland Singers, accompanied by the Lincolnshire Chamber Orchestra, guest soprano Carrie-Ann Williams and bass James Geidt, gave the works of Handel, Greig, Mozart and Brahms fresh expression in a church that was almost full.

It was far more than a mere alternative to the Eurovision Song Contest in Sweden, taking place at the same time, as the South Holland Singers’ annual spring concert instead celebrated the rich musical culture accessible in south east Lincolnshire.

From the opening bars of Handel’s Coronation Anthem No. 2, The King Shall Rejoice, the concert never missed a beat as it continued with two instrumentals of Grieg, Heart’s Wound and The Last Spring.

An explosion of song from Cheshire-born soprano Carrie-Ann Williams then followed as she performed Exsultate, Jubilate by Mozart, described as a “bravura piece” previously performed by the likes of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Cecilia Bartoli and Kathleen Battle.

I wanted to give Carrie-Ann Williams a chance to show people what she can do because I’ve been very impressed by how she sings and how she delivers her personality

Robin Carter, conductor and musical director, South Holland Singers

The second half of the concert was given over to Brahms’ German Requiem which conductor Robin Carter called “a good sing”, the ideal way to sum up a memorable night.

Explaining his reasons for the concert programme, Robin said: “I realised that the Queen’s 90th birthday was round about the time of this concert, so I thought it would be suitable to have a piece of music that was some how connected to that occasion.

“So I went back to Handel’s Coronation Anthems and, out of the four that he composed for the coronation of King George II, The King Shall Rejoice was supposed to have been the one sung at the moment of the crowning itself.

“Then I wanted something more reflective and, after a bit of thought and research, I decided to go for two pieces by Grieg that I’d heard on Classic FM and had stuck in my mind.

“I loved the melodies that Grieg had written, originally set to music as a piano accompaniement, because they had so much pathos, sympathy and were absolutely delightful.

“The choice of Mozart was because I wanted something and very uplifting to end the first half of the concert as I didn’t want people to think that all classical music was mournful.

“As it’s now a bravura piece for female soloists, I wanted to give Carrie-Ann Williams a chance to show people what she can do because I’ve been very impressed by how she sings and how she delivers her personality.

“Finally, Brahms’s Requiem is a good sing and one in which the choir has to put an immense amount of effort in to perform.”

In an interview before the concert, Carrie-Ann said: “It was my first time of performing the Mozart piece which is fantastic, but very demanding because each movement is completely different.

“Robin Carter was very kind enough to give me the opportunity to do it, even though there is a difference between oratorio (a concert piece) and opera (a musical opera).

“It’s so much nicer to come back to a place you’ve been to so many times before, to see the same friendly faces and with whom you have such great relationships.”

James added: “Singing with choral societies are good experiences for us because the more times you can come out and deliver in front of an audience, the better.

“Also, you rarely get chances to perform with orchestras, although the mindset doesn’t change because every time you go out to perform, you give of your best.”

South Holland Singers, joined by Cheshire-born soprano Carrie-Ann Williams

A performance from the gods perfect for a holy setting

James Geidt - a prominent figure on the opera scene

Choir puts on rousing tribute to one of their own concert

Choral epics in a perfect setting for Advent reflection

United voices of the area prepare to sing in Holbeach

Review and interview by Winston Brown