Belfast Telegraph

Fine effort from young choristers

By Philip Hammond

The youth music organisations in Northern Ireland continually testify to the huge amount of artistic talent here.

Last night the Ulster Youth Choir, under conductor Greg Beardsall, gave a concert of choral music as part of the current commemorative events focused on World War One at St Anne's Cathedral.

Most of the pieces on the cleverly constructed programme resonated with the geographical area and the poetic history we normally associate with WW1.

But the acoustics of the venue favours slow moving harmonies and long breathed lines. In some pieces, the individual words were inaudible largely because they disappeared into the cathedral echo. It would have helped to have had the texts but for some reason they were not all printed on the otherwise informative programme.

One of the highlights of the concert was a new work, 'Strange Hells' by Belfast composer David Byers which featured the talented young cellist David McCann.

The composer read the words he had set in an introduction which certainly helped to prepare the scene for this ruminative and discursive work. It eschewed gimmickry and technical challenge for either choir or soloist but brimmed with feeling and Irish undercurrents.

The Ulster Youth Choir is a well trained choral group which produces a high standard of choral music in its short residential courses.

Its tone is mostly strong, rich and relatively agile, its technique capable of a diversity of music as this concert proved admirably.

Three stars

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