Life, Love and Hope concert review

As a local musician and frequent audience member at Bristol Choral Society concerts, I have mostly heard them with orchestral accompaniment in familiar large choral works, ranging from Mozart to Britten. But last Saturday’s mainly a capella concert at Bristol Cathedral was quite different.

Taking your seat beneath the vaulting stonework of Bristol Cathedral will always prepare you for a transcendent evening’s entertainment, and the programme performed by Bristol Choral Society on Saturday 15th June did not disappoint. ‘Life, Hope and Love’ was a sublime blend of familiar and less well-known works, with contemporary composers setting ancient tales, from Genesis to the spirituals of the 20th century. 

Hilary Campbell led the choir to beautifully described waves of sound which filled the space and lifted you along with them into the dizzying heights of this ancient space. Special remark should be paid to the soloist Emily Wenman, who stepped in at the last minute, and whose soaring soprano carried exquisitely over the chorus. In time the newly refurbished Colston Hall will, I’m sure, provide a wonderful arena for future concerts, but some programmes lend themselves to the acoustics and history of this sacred venue, and this was certainly one of them.

Naomi Williams