City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Chants Sacrés Edinburgh Singers, Greyfriars Kirk, Review

By Barnaby Miln - Posted on 05 October 2014

Edinburgh Singers.jpg
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Greyfriars Kirk
Edinburgh Singers
Widor, Messe á deux choeurs et deux orgues, op 36; Duruflé, Quatre motets sur des Thèmes Grégoriens; Poulenc, Litanies à la vierge noire; Poulenc, Quatre petites prières de Saint Françoise d'Assise; Fauré, Messe Basse; Fauré, Cantique de Jean Racine; Widor, Tantum Ergo.
John Gormley (musical director), Morley Whitehead (organist)
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To celebrate the forthcoming 500th anniversary of the Treaty of Paris the Edinburgh Singers plan a concert tour to Paris next June. They hope their singing will be accompanied by three of the great organs built by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. He considerably broadened the potential for choral works. And it was some of those works by French composers that the Edinburgh Singers had chosen to sing. Standing in front of it, they were accompanied by the second largest organ built by a later organ builder, Peter Collins, in Greyfriars Kirk with Morley Whitehead at the console.

The forty two singers with John Gormley conducting sang seven works all in ecclesiastical Latin. We heard Widor's Mass. From Duruflé four motets - the first Ubi Caritas, then for Maundy Thursday's washing of feet with the soprano and alto voices - who went on to Tu es Petrus declaring Peter as the rock of the Church and then Tantum Ergo, the last two verses of the Eucharistic hymn of St Thomas Aquinas.

The soprano and alto voices sang a litany by Poulenc written following the road death of a close friend whilst the tenors and basses sang four of the prayers of St Francis including a fine tenor solo. All the voices sang Fauré's Cantique which was his prize-winning composition on graduation at the age of 19 from the École de Musique. The solo soprano for Fauré's Benediction in his Messe Base was memorable. All the voices completed the concert with Widor's Tantum Ergo.

I wasn't able to see whether there was a means of communication between the organist and conductor, close as they were, but in any case it they got it right. Some of the singing wasn't clipped enough to compete with the great cathedral choirs but it was an enjoyable concert of lesser known choral religious masterworks.