REVIEW: Kingfisher Chorale explore all aspects of love

The Kingfisher Chorale. Picture by Melvyn Walmsley
The Kingfisher Chorale. Picture by Melvyn Walmsley
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Kingfisher Chorale: ‘If Music be the Food of Love’, Holy Trinity Church, Cuckfield, July 1

Three years before they gave this enthusiastically received Cuckfield Arts Festival concert, the Kingfisher Chorale had presented ‘Tenebrae: Music for Holy Week’ at a church in their Leicester base.

Just a few bars into the chamber choir’s opening song at Holy Trinity Church – Vaughan Williams’ ‘The Lover’s Ghost’ – they had fallen in love with its acoustic and we had realised that Kingfisher Chorale, Tenebrae and The Sixteen can and should be said in the same breath.

Musical Director Giles Turner’s programme not only presented love in all its aspects – erotic, sensual, light-hearted, self-effacing and religious.

It also – with the audience hyper-attentive, continuously admiring the Chorale’s technical excellence and intellectual and emotional commitment – spanned the centuries and Kingfisher’s wide repertoire. Their practice (similar to Tenebrae’s) of commissioning new works alongside – in mood and often form – masterpieces from the 12th to the 20th centuries was also in evidence.

Starting with folksong-inspired pieces by Vaughan Williams and Holst, the Chorale moved on to Moeran’s ‘Love is a Sickness’ before a religious section starting with Harvey’s ‘I Love the Lord’. Diverse in mood, style and tempo, this ranged from Gjeilo’s and Durufle’s versions of ‘Ubi Caritas’, through the long, overlapping lines of Palestrina’s ‘Duo Ubera’, to Skempton’s sensual ‘Song of Songs’ gems and Holst’s plaintive ‘This Have I Done for My True Love’.

The second half, with equally relaxed yet meticulous diction, characterisation and choral unity, was lighter but again had alternate quieter and more exuberant songs.

From Vauter’s 17th century teenage girl insisting, ‘Mother I will Have a Husband’, through Morley’s familiar hey-nonny ‘It was a Lover and his Lass’, to the show-stopping ‘Lullaby of Birdland’, here was another highlight in Cuckfield’s new festival.

Haste ye back, Kingfisher!

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