THEY’RE young, they’re bursting with musical ability and they sing like a dream.
This is Sansara, who are all either former choristers at Winchester and Salisbury cathedrals, or quiristers from Winchester College.
The first half of the concert consisted of pieces from the 16th to the 20th century, beginning with choral responds for the feast day of Pentecost, a series of solo chants followed by seven-part replies from the choir written by Thomas Tallis during the brief reign of Queen Mary.
The choir followed with the gentle motet O Nata Lux, also by Tallis. Then followed works by Stanford, John Tavener, Gustav Holst and Vaughan Williams, performed with enviable accuracy, purity of tone and maturity of interpretation.
The acoustic in St Peter’s can be unforgiving. Every musical entry has to be razor sharp, the tuning throughout spot on.
Nowhere was this displayed more perfectly than when the choir split and formed up in both side aisles facing each other across the heads of the audience to sing the eight-part Lay A Garland, composed in the early 19th century by Robert de Pearsall. This was a performance equal to none and to be treasured for all time.
The concert’s second half was devoted entirely to Songs of Farewell by Charles Hubert Parry. Rarely are the six songs performed as a whole and to hear them sung in sequence was a revelation.
The prolonged applause spoke for itself.
The word Sansara derives from the Sanskrit meaning ‘continuous flow’, reflecting the group’s philosophy.
The conducting on Saturday was shared between Jack Butterworth, Tom Herring and Tom Jesty, all choir members.
By nature of its youthful make-up, Sansara can only form during university and college vacations. Long may it continue.