A competent performance for Flodden

The Berwick Arts Choir, which draws members from across north Northumberland and the Borders, joined The Roxburgh Singers and the Yetholm Sinfonia under the direction of Geoffrey Emerson on Saturday in Wooler Parish Church as part of the Flodden commemoration.

They performed works by Beethoven and Mozart. The little-known Beethoven work, Music for a Knight’s Ballet, provided a roisterous start to the concert. This was followed by Mozart’s Exultate Jubilate, written when he was 17 years old.

The main work was Mozart’s Requiem, which he undertook as a commission from his patron without any idea for whom it was intended - one suggestion has been that he thought that he was writing it for his own funeral. He died before it was finished, and a pupil completed the work in Mozart’s style, as far as possible from Mozart’s notes for the remainder.

The two choirs combined admirably, but a common disadvantage of performances in church is that the chancel arch inhibits the full sound of the choir and, in this case, the overall sound would have benefitted from a slightly smaller orchestra. The soloists were competent and powerful. The word competent actually applies to the whole performance, so that the large audience was able to enjoy it in a relaxed way.

Mozart expected those who played and sang his work to be competent and my companions observed that, while many of the instrumentalists had a look of fierce concentration on their faces, a young lady from Coldstream, who told me she started to play when she was eight but has only been performing for two years, sat serenely playing her cello throughout.