B Minor Mass : J S BACH, May 2016


On Sunday 15th May Stonehaven Choral held their Spring concert in a packed Town Hall where under conductor Ralph Jamieson they performed J S Bach’s B Minor Mass. This deep and searching work is a challenge for even the most experienced of professional ensembles but Stonehaven Chorus has every reason to be proud having sung with such confidence and musical conviction.

The chorus were on top form and gave a truly stunning performance of this major work. Conductor and musical director Ralph Jamieson guided both choir and orchestra with a controlled and sensitive hand, maintaining a well paced and clear musical line to which chorus members could easily respond. Contrasts in mood were conveyed beautifully and convincingly, be it the lilting majesty of the Gloria, the inspirational and restrained intensity of the Et incarnatus est or the crisp and vital Osanna with its double choir. The sheer stamina of the chorus proved unassailable and they carried the music to almost unbelievable heights.

Aberdeen Sinfonietta accompanied the chorus as they have many times in the past and as usual gave a superb and highly skilled performance which included many fine instrumental solos. The Domine Deus, sung beautifully by soprano Catriona Clark and tenor James Slimings, was accompanied by Margaret Preston’s fine flute playing while orchestra leader, Bryan Dargie’s smoothly accomplished violin playing danced magically alongside Emily Mitchell’s lovely soprano solo. Colette Ruddy’s singing of Qui sedes ad dextram Patris blended perfectly with Geoffrey Bridges oboe while her solo Agnes Dei was coloured to great effect by the superb organ playing of Arthur Balfour. Our final soloist Douglas Nairne’s smooth bass baritone solo was a delight to hear.

There was so much to admire throughout the work. The sheer variety that Bach injects into his settings makes for a real technicolor extravaganza with soloists, orchestra and chorus offering the audience a dazzlingly colourful musical experience. This concert was one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences for both the Stonehaven Chorus to perform and the audience to hear.