University of Birmingham Music Society, at Symphony Hall, Birmingham
After 30 years Colin Timms, Peyton and Barber Professor of Music, has decided to step down as conductor of the choir and orchestra at Birmingham University. His final concert, therefore, combined elements of both valediction and reflection in his choice of programme.
Most significantly it was dominated by Elgar, the university’s first professor of music, with a performance of The Music Makers that, despite the somewhat bright timbre of the choir’s predominantly young voices, effectively conveyed the music’s sadness and poet Arthur O’Shaugnessy’s more uplifting sentiments.
The work’s elusive nature was also sensitively realised by mezzo soloist Wendy Dawn Thompson, who blended effortlessly with the chorus while still maintaining a radiant vocal presence.
Her reading of Elgar’s Sea Pictures was just as intelligently shaped, although here she favoured intimacy rather than projection and tended to sound bland.
Verdi’s Te Deum offered a more obvious ‘good sing’, which the choir responded to with effulgent tone and fine declamatory flourishes.