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Review: Birmingham University Chorus and Philharmonic Orchestra at Birmingham Town Hall

Christopher Morley reviews Birmingham University Chorus and Philharmonic Orchestra at Birmingham Town Hall.

Birmingham University Chorus and Philharmonic Orchestra at Birmingham Town Hall
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Music-making seems to have been put on a more professional level at University of Birmingham since the music department moved into the brilliant new Bramall Music Building and made two very important new appointments.

Those appointments are veteran choral Svengali Simon Halsey as director of choral studies and Daniele Rosina as director of orchestral studies. Halsey is already renowned worldwide and Rosina certainly deserves far wider recognition. Together they have welded the amateur forces of the Musical Society into a formidable performing outfit, aided by the 20 music scholarships which bring non-departmental talent into the society’s pantheon.

This well-attended concert proved a heartening display of all that has already been achieved. Rosina conducted a flowing Mahler Blumine, with William Young phrasing gloriously in the trumpet solos, and with fulsome tone from the orchestra. Copland’s Appalachian Spring drew other qualities: spiky rhythmic alertness, pastel woodwind colourings, tight, powerful phrasing, and a wonderful sense of cohesion from all concerned; and at the beatific end Rosina allowed applause only when he chose – not every conductor can do that.

Simon Halsey took over for the Mozart Requiem, his choristers projecting engagingly, his tempi flowing and unsentimental, though perhaps more weight would have been appropriate at certain points.

The whole account of this poignant work had wonderful flow, texture and balance, and in an efficient quartet of soloists mezzo Gaynor Keeble was warmly communicative.

 
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