Burnley Municipal Choir hit the high notes with stunning Carmina Burana performance

There have been times over the last 18 months, when we may have longed for a return to a normality, albeit a slightly different normality.

Last Saturday evening, the Burnley Municipal Choir, under the leadership of Nigel Wilkinson provided a much-needed lift to the spirits of a capacity audience at Burnley Life Church, and offered a glimpse of ‘normality’.

The choir presented Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and a range of other popular music. Pianists for the evening were Joanna Garcia and David Eddison. They provided an outstanding level of accompaniment throughout, including a poignant ‘time to reflect’ as they played a beautiful duet version of Bach’s ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring’.

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The first half of the evening began with an emotional, but heart-warming rendition of ‘Zadok the Priest’ (Handel). The audience was then treated to a number of familiar pieces performed by professional singers - Linda Richardson (soprano), Nicholas Watts (tenor) and Grant Doyle (baritone), all of whom provided an exquisite quality of singing and helped to elevate the whole evening to the highest level.

After singing amongst other pieces, the beautiful ‘How lovely are thy dwellings’ (Brahms) and the rich velvet harmonies of George Shearing’s ‘Who is Sylvia?’, the Choir led the whole audience in a joyous rendition of Rutter’s arrangement of ‘When the saints go marching in’.

To say that the second half of the concert was a triumph, is no exaggeration. Carmina Burana is a huge challenge and an ambitious musical composition. Written almost 100 years ago, it was based upon a collection of medieval poems, written mainly in Latin and German.

Consisting of three parts, it explores issues around the perils and pleasures of life – perhaps just as relevant today as ever they were. The opening and closing pieces, ‘O Fortuna’, are familiar and were tremendously thrilling to hear, particularly with the support of percussionists from the East Lancs Sinfonia.

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The choir is now over 100 years old and continues to produce concerts of an excellent quality. Nigel Wilkinson, as Director of Music, inspires and manages music worthy of any concert hall in the UK and is to be congratulated. All who were there, were greatly enriched by the experience.