Unfortunately, both Aberdeen’s daily newspapers (the Press & Journal and Evening Express) have decided to discontinue the reviewing of many local ‘classical’ concerts, including those held by Aberdeen Bach Choir.  Therefore, this review from April 2002 was the final contribution from Alan Cooper of the Press & Journal:


Aberdeen Bach Choir presented an evening of spectacular singing to a capacity audience in St. Machar's Cathedral last night.

The most novel of the three works performed was Arvo Pärt's Te Deum.  It is scored for three choirs, soloists, prepared piano and string orchestra with pre-recorded bell-like effects too. The variety of vocal textures and intensities from the various sizes of choral groups employed was astonishing and the whole was expertly co-ordinated by conductor James Lobban.

It is the ever-changing colours generated by Pärt's orchestra and choral writing that matter most in his music though I found in the end that it did not add up to nearly as much as the two stunning pieces by Bach in last night's programme.

His opening Cantata "Nun ist das heil" opened with wonderfully forceful and well-focused singing from the men's voices and blossomed into an explosion of contrapuntal vocal writing supported by magnificent playing by members of Aberdeen Sinfonietta.

Their solo players too were the stars of Bach's Easter Oratorio. Trumpets, flutes, oboe d'amore and a magnificent sustained performance on violin by leader Bryan Dargie supported the four vocal soloists who really got their chance to shine with this work.

Freshness and brightness of tone marked Katheryn McGuckin's soprano solos while Clare McCaldin's vocal warmth and the lively way in which she really connected with the audience made her arias the highlight of the performance.

Baritone Rodney Clarke gets only recitatives from Bach but the richness of his tone still made these special.  Tenor Andrew Murgatroyd sang with a light attractive vocal quality but his voice lacked power both at the top and bottom of his range.

No hint of any lack of power from the Bach Choir though.  They had less to do in this work but all the voices attacked the final chorus and chorale with as much gusto as the male voices which opened the concert."

The works performed were:

Our soloists were:

Kathryn McGuckin (Soprano) - Winner of Making Music (NFMS) Award for Young Artists, 2002

Claire McCaldin (Alto)

Andrew Murgatroyd (Tenor)

Rodney Clarke (Baritone) - Winner of the Alfreda Hodgson Bursary, 2002

Page last altered by Margaret Downie on 22nd July 2003.