The John Sheppard Ensemble

Christ Church, St Leonards-on-sea 6th August 2019

The John Sheppard Ensemble gave a most impressive evening of a capella singing which deserved a larger audience.  Unfortunately, because the St Leonards’ venue was a fill in before their performance in Guildford, the event wasn’t advertised as widely as it should have been. However, those who did attend had an enchanting and splendid evening. We heard choral singing at its best and most harmonious.

The 25 person German choir sang two pieces from German composers and two from English.  The German Brahm’s Funf Gesange and Rheinberger’s Cantus Missae had distinctive emotive flowing tones and movement.  After a brief interval, we heard four of Parry’s Songs of Farewell, delivered enchantingly with the right emphasis on his usual swell and ebb of sound.  Then, Vaughan-Williams Mass in G, which included parts for soloists. These were executed exceedingly well. Overall the choir’s harmony seemed effortless.

Two words came to mind during the whole performance. Firstly, Choreography; the voices danced, flowing and weaving together, each voice complementing the whole with no one being too loud, faltering or out of step.    Secondly, Control; the conductor, Bernhard Schmitt, though his musical direction and conducting appeared light, had a control with the choir which gave them a superiority to be envied and admired.

As an encore we were treated to an extra piece from Rheinberger where the choir surrounded the audience. It was beautiful and enchanting.  Thank you and well done indeed!

Whatever happens after Brexit, please, please, come again. Sorry, that’s an in joke.

Reverend Bernard Crosby