REVIEW: Salisbury Musical Society

MEMBERS of Salisbury Musical Society (SMS) celebrated their 90th anniversary in great style.

With their long-standing partners the Chelsea Opera Group Orchestra they performed choral music matching the scale and splendour of Salisbury Cathedral, where the birthday concert was held.

Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous patron, the society had commissioned a new work, My God and King by Jonathan Willcocks, whose father Sir David is the society’s president and a former conductor.

The composer has set to music two uplifting pieces by Salisbury’s 17th century poet and priest George Herbert, The Call: Come, my Way, My Truth, My Life and The Antiphon: Let all the World in ev’ry Corner Sing.

These verses have been set to music by other composers, but never with the power of antiphonal brass and a climactic orchestral surge that sometimes supported, sometimes surrounded, the blazing chorus with its complex cross rhythms.

After conducting this energised piece, Jonathan Willcocks handed the baton to the society’s regular conductor, David Halls, for the Grande Messe des Morts, the Requiem by Berlioz, written in 1837 and also using augmented brass and percussion.

SMS rose nobly to the occasion with beautiful a capella singing in the fifth section and control of the dynamic variety of the Lacrymosa.

John Cox

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