IN keeping with the spring bursting forth around us, Fairford & District Choral Society presented a full house with a concert of ‘new beginnings’ in St Mary's Church in Fairford at Saturday, April 13. 

Not only was this the first performance under the baton of their new conductor, Nia Llewelyn Jones, but the two works performed were also innovations in their day, each by a late nineteenth century composer aiming to forge a new style in their music writing.

Faure’s Requiem, though very familiar to us today, was, in 1887, a very bold departure from what had gone before - the result of his intention simply to ‘write something different’.  

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Fairford & District Choral Society's new conductor Nia Llewelyn JonesFairford & District Choral Society's new conductor Nia Llewelyn Jones (Image: Fairford & District Choral Society)
Similarly, Dvorak sought novelty by bringing the spirit of Czech folk music into the Germanic late Romantic tradition in his Mass in D from the same year.

The choir, though not large in number, showed itself equally capable of making a big sound when needed and delivering the quietest of reflective passages.

The soprano section was particularly strong and well-blended.

In both works there was assiduous attention to dynamics and throughout the singers responded well to their conductor’s positive and expansive direction.

Throughout, organ accompaniment was sensitively provided by Ian Crabbe.

The variations in style and tempi in the Dvorak call for alertness and agility, both of which were present in good measure.

The delivery of the warm and melodic Kyrie section made for an impressive start to the concert.

The tight control exhibited in the dramatic ‘Adoramus te’ fugue in the Gloria, was particularly pleasing as familiar motifs were shared around the voice sections - a really punchy performance!

The quartet of soloists in Dvorak’s Mass largely play supporting roles, and these were performed by soprano Charlotte Newstead, alto Nicole Boardman, tenor Nicholas Drew and bass/baritone Nicholas Perfect.

After the interval, the choir, along with the soprano and baritone soloists, gave an admirable performance of Fauré’s requiem.

Pitching, which can be challenging in this work, was good.

The tenor voices, so important in the exposed sections of the Introit and Agnus Dei, blended well and had lost the occasional ‘over exuberance’ evident earlier in the concert.

The closing ‘In Paradisum’ was beautifully controlled and sustained in a fitting end to this most enjoyable concert.

Congratulations to Nia and her singers. On this performance, they look destined for a very bright future together.