By Anna Corden
The Apex concert hall in Bury St Edmunds was packed to the rafters for Radio Suffolk’s Carol Concert on 1 December in aid of Children in Need. A varied programme included local choral society Stowmarket Chorale, a brass band, a children’s choir, readings, and opportunities for the audience to sing along. Both audience and performers went away afterwards with happy smiles and in thoroughly festive mood.
Stowmarket Chorale brought out all the emotion and drama of the popular nineteenth-century French carol O Holy Night, and their Music Director Tom Appleton performed the solo melody in The Three Kings while his choir provided the serene and contemplative chorale tune interwoven with it. An exuberant version of Jingle Bells had the audience laughing along with the choir. Then in the second half came a change of gear – Silent Night was performed by Stowmarket Chorale with breathtaking poise, first hummed, very, very quietly and then sung with feeling in both German and English before returning to the final, tiny humming. There were some five hundred people in the hall, including children, but you could have heard a pin drop. The Chorale then showed it could let its hair down too and give the music some welly, as it belted out Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody – but it still managed clear diction and some very well-controlled sudden pianissimos.
Stowmarket Chorale showed off the full dynamic and stylistic range that can be achieved by this 60-strong choir under the leadership of its talented and charismatic new Music Director Tom Appleton, appointed less than four months ago.
The next major concert by Stowmarket Chorale will be Brahms’ well-loved German Requiem, at the United Reformed Church in Stowmarket on 30 March.
Rehearsals start on Weds 9 January 7.30-9.30pm at Chilton Primary School, Violet Hill Road, Stowmarket. New singers welcome.
For more information visit www.stowmarketchorale.org.uk.