Concert Review from the 2017 Edinburgh, Scotland “Festival Fringe” – Ludus Baroque Chamber Orchestra and Choir


Review Of J.S. Bach B minor Mass **** stars

Ludus Baroque Chamber Orchestra & Choir, Richard Neville-Towle, Director Thursday, 3 August 2017 7:30 pm. Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh, Scotland. http://www.ludusbaroque.co.uk/

Arrived to the Canongate Kirk (church), Edinburgh, Scotland for a concert featuring Ludus Chamber Orchestra & Choir, conducted by RichardNeville-Towle, Director for an evening performance of J.S. Bach’s B minor Mass.

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Beyond taking on Bach’s vocally athletic choral work employing only ten singers, I was additionally moved by and impressed by the choir’s enthusiastic singing – often with visual supportive eye contact and affirming smilies with each other as the mass progressed. Moreover, I was delighted in the staging of the performance in which singers easily moved from their choral position near the audience (without a conductor). This gave the performance a rich and warm recital-like atmosphere. I must add that despite being classical training as a conductor and vocalist, I still often find the formality of classical music concert setting off-putting and unnecessarily ‘stiff’.

Now, I could offer a few lines on the vocal quality of the singers, but why, in that they were just that good and the vocal quality of their effort was polished, strong and consistent throughout the performance.

Director Neville-Towle, a masterful conductor at that, has embraced, captured and displayed at least for my tastes, one of the typically missing aspects to concert settings – I call it ‘good-community’, meaning balancing in professional artistic expression while simultaneously rendering music in a parlor like setting that bridges the musically well-informed with listeners relatively new to classical music.

Duets and solos were quite lovely, though I would have preferred to hear some of them rendered more robustly as arias rather than as art songs. The chamber orchestra never overpowered the choir. That was impressive! For anyone who has ever vocally performed Bach’s B minor mass they know just how vocally challenging it can be, particularly toward the end of mass where vocal fatigue can negatively impact pitch. Not so with Ludus who could easily have offered an encore performance of a movement or two to what was an adoring and thrilled audience. After such a solid presentation, I’m joining their collective of enthused fans. Moreover, I can wait for them to send me CDs for airplay on The Road To Higher Ground.