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Orpheus Singers, supporting the 2020 vision for developing St John’s Church in Newport, gave an evening of enormous variety on Saturday.

Beginning in sombre mood with Mozart’s Kyrie, they then sang the glorious unaccompanied Crucifixus by Lotti, which begins with soft low basses and then sweeps you up as it rises, gathering the emotions to an uplifting climax. This is the essence of Orpheus Singers who have such a unity of tone. The audience were then ready then for Bach’s Motet Lobet den Herrn, with its musical decoration, inimitable rhythm and its utter joyfulness. Bach in this mood makes you smile and Orpheus did not fail.

So to Duruflé’s Requiem, a 20th century gem. The organist is crucial to this work and Douglas Potts gave an impressive performance. The soloists: Ali St-Denis (mezzo soprano) and Bruce Russell (baritone), with their rich voices brought passion and drama, particularly, Bruce in “Libera me” and Ali’s “ Pie Jesu” which was so haunting.

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The changes in tempo between organ and choir were challenging, but Philip Fryer, conductor, made it look simple and the choir responded with confidence and little hesitancy. An ambitious programme, so early in their season, must have exhausted everyone, but the satisfaction of accomplishment and the delight of the audience were well worth it.

Report: Lesley Ann Bryant

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