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Celtic Routes

Carlisle Cathedral
13 July 2014

The Carlisle International Festival closed with an accomplished programme of Celtic songs by the
Wordsworth Singers.

The audience were treated to a well-balanced assortment of Celtic moments, which were supplemented by director Mark Hindley's thorough and extensive programme notes, not to mention his translations of the texts, delivered to the audience with such humour as to draw the audience further in.

The rhythmic opening song Pase el agoa instantly demonstrated the choir's superior vocal balance and clear diction.

The programme featured the music of Granville Bantock whose arrangements of traditional melodies from Ireland and the Hebrides were quite beautiful and showed that this choir not only blends beautifully, but also consists of individual local talent.

Many programmes this year will contain the music of George Dyson to commemorate 50 years since his death. Ho-ro, My Nut-brown Maiden was a lovely piece with modulations galore, ably negotiated by the singers.

The highlight for me was The Gallant Weaver by James MacMillan. This was stunning. The atmosphere that was created was so pure that even a pin dare not drop and disturb it. The silence after the final phrase was only broken by the richly deserved applause.

Two charming pieces by Jean Langlais finished the concert, the Deux Chansons Populaires de Haute-Bretagne were performed with the wilful exuberance the text demanded.

The choir and director seemed almost symbiotic throughout and the expressive dynamic colours they created together made this a very special performance indeed. A treat for those who attended, and a big miss for those who didn't.

JONATHAN MILLICAN