L’Homme armé - Devizes and Annecy

L’Homme armé (Dufay, Josquin, Palestrina) plus motets by Bach, Britten, Whitacre
Monday 17 June 2013,  Devizes Festival

Click here for the Devizes Festival programme


It’s a number of years since the festival hosted a choral event but Paragon Singers, all 22 of them, more than made up for the gap with a stunning unaccompanied performance of religious music last Monday. Listening to the rehearsal, it was clear that their musical director Keith Bennett was in command of a formidable set of voices.
Paragon Singers, formed in 1976, now specialise in Renaissance, Baroque and 20th-century music and is now considered one of the leading chamber choirs in these fields in the area.
The concert started with excerpts from L’homme Armé by Dufray, Josquin des Prez and Palestrina, and continued via a Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei to a glorious When David Heard composed by Eric Whitacre in 1999. This piece, only five lines on the page, was a weeping lament describing King David’s reaction to the death of his rebellious son Absalom. The programme notes describe it well – repeated weeping phrases, evocative pauses and large chord clusters to create a work of passionate intensity – but do not do justice to the range of harmonies, colours and volumes produced by the choir.
Also worthy of mention was the treatment of Hymn to the Virgin in which the singers split with an echoing third singing replies from the far end of St John’s – haunting and effective.
The evening ended with the joyous Singet dem Herrn ein neus Lied by JS Bach. The choir rewarded an enthusiastic reception from the audience with an encore.
Hopefully a night to be repeated at a future Devizes Festival.

Ged Fitzgibbon

L'Homme armé (Dufay, Josquin, Palestrina) plus motets by Poulenc, Victoria, Britten, Gibbons and more...
Saturday 29 - Sunday 30 June 2013,  Annecy, France

Tour of Annecy, La Clusaz & St Germain sur Talloires

28 June-1 July 2013

Click here for the 2013 Annecy programme


At the invitation of a music-loving friend from Annecy, the Paragon Singers, a choir from Bath (England), conducted by Keith Bennett, has just given two concerts, one at La Clusaz, the other at St Germain sur Talloires. They featured works by Guillaume Dufay, Claudio Monteverdi, Francis Poulenc, Benjamin Britten and Josquin des Prez, performed with an energy and a subtlety that aroused feelings of real emotion in the audience, particularly when Jane Hunt, soprano, sang a poignant solo in Benjamin Britten’s “O Waly Waly”.