Review of our concert at St Nicolas' Church, Newbury on Saturday March 1st from the Newbury Weekly News:





Saturday’s ‘Celebration of Contemporary Church Music’ was a concert full of warmth and life.  Under the inspirational direction of Janet Coxwell, the Cecilia Consort gave the audience in St Nicholas’ Church a rare chance to hear some of the most uplifting music written in the last few decades.  Starting with John Rutter’s vibrant setting of Psalm 47 O Clap Your Hands, the choir immediately established their incisive rhythmic attack and fine ensemble work.  


The programme covered a wide spectrum, and included Morten Lauridsen’s contemplative O magnum Mysterium  where the singers rose brilliantly to their director’s challenge, ‘Sing this without a conductor!’  Ave Maris Stella, by Cecilia McDowall was another perfect choice for this choir.  The fresh soprano sound supported by well-judged tenor and bass sonorities brought out the contrasts in this beautiful piece and Lucy  Makin’s  jewel–like solo, glittered with illumination.  Perhaps one of the most haunting pieces was Patrick Hawes’ When Israel was a Child.  Here the choir demonstrated lyricism, majesty and a huge dynamic range,  including some of the magical soft singing for which they are known.


Bob Chilcott’s joyful A Little Jazz Mass showed them  in a different mood as they relaxed into the seductive flow and  rhythms of the music.  The crisp accompaniment from keyboard, bass and drum kit brought another dimension to this attractive work . Much of the music was a cappella  but the choir had a fine organist in Steve Bowey for the accompanied pieces; William Matthias’ Processional gave the audience a chance to hear him as a soloist.


The intention was to ‘showcase many of our contemporary church music composers’.  With their commitment and love of singing, this versatile and accomplished choir displayed the music to advantage.


Contributed by Sylvia Haymes


 You can listen to excerpts from previous concerts with the following links:

Bob Chilcott Little Jazz Mass: March 2014 concert in St Nicolas' Church, Newbury

Paul Mealor Ubi Caritas: November 2012 concert in Douai Abbey

Duruflé Four Motets: February 2013 concert in St George's Church, Wash Common