from the Wokingham Times, 30 December 1999
What a wonderful year Wokingham Choral Society has had with their new conductor Edward Gardner!
Last spring we had their grand performance of Mozart's Mass in C Minor, and a few weeks ago we enjoyed their more intimate carol concert at All Saint's Church.
And now we have enjoyed their inspired singing of Handel's Messiah, and this was truly an experience for us.
The work may be familiar, but the choir gave it a polished freshness. They negotiated passages like "And he shall come to purify" or "The Lord gave the word" with confident ease.
The exciting "He trusted in God" was firm, clear, and neat. The final "Worthy is the Lamb", which Ed Gardner took at a steady pace, was splendid.
The soloists were an unusually well-matched team. Emma Bell has a lovely clear soprano which soared on "But who may abide". To her, the formidable trills in "Rejoice greatly" were no problem.
William Towers was a rich alto. His moving "He was despised" was quietly sung, letting the music speak for itself.
Daniel Norman's singling is flexible and sensitive, and smooth.
Thomas Guthrie was thrilling in "Behold, I tell you a mystery".
The Sirius Orchestra gave a lively and responsive account which blended beautifully with the singing.
There was a tinge of sadness about the concert: it was dedicated to the memory of Maggie Yeates who was a long-standing and much-loved member of the society. The performance was a fitting tribute.