Press and Publicity 2015

Concerts are regularly reviewed in the Bournemouth Echo, New Milton Advertiser and Lymington Times.

Reviews from the Bournemouth Echo, The Lymington Times & New Milton Advertiser.

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Review of Grange Choral Society Concert on Saturday 13th July 2014

The vaulted nave of Christchurch Priory was temporarily transformed into the opera house for two hours on Saturday 13th July when the Grange Choral Society presented a concert of popular operatic pieces by composers ranging from Mozart through Léhar to Gershwin – and, naturally, taking in the Italian greats like Puccini, Verdi and Mascagni. This was home territory for the choir’s conductor Márcio da Silva; but did it work for the choir and the audience? I should say so. The enjoyment of the audience was palpable from start to spectacular finish, where we were invited to add our own voices and sing “in Italian” -  which actually amounted to “la-la-la”!

The choir was joined by soloists Grace Carter (soprano), Denver Martin Smith (baritone) and Vedat Dalgiran (bass). Each of them added their own touch to the concert, singing sometimes alone and sometimes with the chorus. The richness of tone in Vedat Dalgiran’s bass voice made a particular impact, and was the subject of much conversation during the interval. The choir, although not quite up to full strength for this summer concert, made a huge impact. The pleasure they took in singing this repertoire came over strongly. And if one or two choir members who spoke to me were apologetic about their Italian pronunciation, they really need not have worried: the music spoke for itself.

On this occasion the choir was accompanied by the 17-strong Ensemble Orquestra (about whom, rather surprisingly, the programme provided no information). Having opened the concert with Mozart’s Don Giovanni overture (at Márcio’s breakneck tempo!) they went on to give splendidly colourful support to soloists and choir throughout the evening. They were joined in places by Chris Dowie on the piano and, in his own inimitable style, on the organ – notably in an extract from Verdi’s Force of Destiny,and producing a spine-tingling climax in the ever-popular Easter Chorus from Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana – which really did feel at home in this building.
I confess that, as someone who is not a born opera-lover, I had my doubts beforehand about this concert. In the event they were totally brushed away within the first few minutes. The whole evening was an absolute delight and, although I wouldn’t necessarily think it should become a regular part of the Society’s calendar, I have to say it was a huge success at every level. Congratulations to Márcio da Silva for taking the Society into slightly new territory, and giving their regular audience so much pleasure.



Reviews of Grange Choral Society Concert on Saturday 18th January 2014.

Daily Echo review 19-01-14
Mike Marsh

THOUGH little is known of the fourth century Bishop of Myra, the legends surrounding his life are enshrined within Britten's intensely powerful St. Nicholas.

The Grange Chorus, directed by Marcio da Silva, were on top form negotiating every level of dynamic which the excellent Ensemble OrQuestra provided. Britten’s distinctive harmonies were engaged with purposeful, heartfelt singing conveying the sincerity of Eric Crozier's libretto.

Critical to the success here was tenor Mark Milhofer whose account in the role of St. Nicholas grasped the gravitas with thrilling profundity.

The boy Nicholas and the Three Pickled Boys were sung by trebles Nathan Blackmore-Wells, Toby Gadd, Oliver Beeby and Harrison Lindgren.

Two integral hymns, sung by the entire congregation, were roof-raising quality.

The values of Vivaldi's Gloria are of traditional sacred praise, but with a brighter aspect.

The chorus obviously enjoyed their part as did the three female soloists with a beautiful, finely controlled account of Domine Deus from Sophie Levi accompanied so movingly by oboist Nicki Woods.

With Irina Loskova, both sopranos were nicely balanced in Laudamas te and alto Alessandra Fasolo proved richly sombre in the Agnus Dei.

The surprise of this concert came from Holst's setting of Psalms 86 and 148.They were magnificently structured and built to glorious climaxes from both chorus and orchestra, and even if the apt reference to 'Ye torrents rushing from the hills' unfortunately reflected the current state of the Stour, this made a joyously impressive opening.

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Derek Baldwin - Lymington Times

The Grange Choral Society's first 2014 concert in Christchurch Priory on Saturday 18th January was very much a "game of two halves", with the 18th century Baroque style represented by the ever-popular Vivaldi Gloria, and the 20th century by Britten's cantata Saint Nicholas. Both made a big impact. The sprightly outer movements of the Gloria can sound a little heavy when sung by almost 150 voices, but on this occasion the choir responded vigorously to Marcio da Silva's brisk tempi with obvious enjoyment, clearly shared by trumpeter Brian Wright. In the slower movements the choir made the most of the varied dynamic levels, singing at times with great intensity. Soprano soloists Irina Loskova and Sophie Levi are both making a name for themselves in the operatic scene; but it is debatable how appropriate this vocal style is for the performance of Baroque sacred music. Contralto Alessandre Fasolo (from a similar musical background) brought great feeling to the Domine Deus section. The performance was enriched by some impressive playing by the instrumental ensemble; and Christopher Dowie's imaginative but always sensitive decoration in the organ continuo was a delight.

The concert had opened with a bonus (not included in the pre-concert publicity) of two little-known psalm settings by Gustav Holst. Beginning in somewhat sombre mood, the first (Psalm 86) rose to a strong climax; but it was the second (Psalm 148) with its repeated "Alleluias" and stunning organ part towards the end, which lifted the roof! In these opening minutes of the concert it become apparent that Marcio da Silva's slight re-arrangement of the choir's layout is paying dividends: placing the men centrally - with the tenors coming right down to the front - has done much to re-balance the sound reaching the audience. (No doubt his concentration on "projection" has also contributed to this!)

But it was Benjamin Britten's strange, attention-grabbing cantata Saint Nicolas which was the highlight. Originally written for school choirs, and with instrumental parts suitable for capable amateurs, this work is not as easy as that might suggest. The choral parts are quite challenging in their vocal range, dissonance and sheer unpredictability. The Grange choir met these challenges with superb confidence and gusto. Of the solo tenor part, Britten himself observed that it is "no amateur matter". Indeed not! Here Mark Milhofer more than rose to its demands: his was a stunning performance, showing great stamina and versatility and getting right inside the person of Nicolas. And we, the audience, rose to our feet and joined in the two well-known hymns which Britten includes in this work. For your reviewer this was an unforgettable experience.


© Grange Choral Society 2013
 Registered Charity: 104590 President: Neil Jenkins MA CANTAB   
Vice President: Anita Hansen