Luminosa raises the roof of St Peter’s, Petersfield, with the music of Africa

Sunday 7th August 2022 4:00 pm
Luminosa at St Peter’s Church in Petersfield PHOTO: VERNON NASH (Vernon Nash )

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Alton choir Luminosa enjoyed sell-out success in its recent concert with music inspired by Africa.

Probably its best concert so far, the programme involved creative and innovative choices with plenty of light and shade, sensitively constructed and brought to superb concert quality in the beautiful acoustic of St Peter’s Church in Petersfield by choral director Rebekah Abbott.

Every possible space was used: the singers sometimes spaced out around the church; sometimes heard from the back and front simultaneously; and once outside the building. The blended sound gave a rich variety to the performance and captivated the audience.

There were too many highlights of the concert to commend but the 20-voice chamber choir’s performance of Amavolovolo, a traditional African song, spaced out around the church, produced a cacophonous feeling of being enveloped in a warm blanket of sound.

Equally captivating was the choir’s rendition of the spiritual Down To The River To Pray, arranged by Mack Willberg. This was performed with the 70-strong choir equally split between the front and back of the church.

All voice parts were finely balanced with gorgeous shaping and sensitivity, enhanced by masterful pianist Adam Blosse and soprano saxophonist George Shrapnell.

Rounding off the first part of the evening, the two children’s choirs sang out with confidence. There were particularly memorable performances by the youngest choir, Luminosa Young Voices, of traditional African song A Kellie, complete with first-rate solos. Rising Voices, the older choir, performed Something Just Like This in two-part harmony with much flair and control.

After a congenial interval in which drinks from the choir’s sponsor, Hattingley Valley Wines, were served, the audience were treated to Alexander L’Estrange’s electric work, Zimbe!

Feeling like it was written for the Luminosa family of choirs, this music takes for its inspiration songs, chants and memorable gospel tunes from all regions of Africa, drawing on the language of each country.

Of note was the choir’s attention to detail, its clear diction of the various African languages and its ability to hold the attention of the audience from the beginning with the stirring opening notes of the first movement, Njooni Zimbe.

It was an impressive showpiece for the well-balanced jazz quintet, who created a brilliant interplay between themselves and the singers. An audience member said of the evening: “Every minute was fabulous!”

Luminosa Voices is running an open rehearsal in Alton Maltings on Tuesday, September 13, from 7.45pm to 9.30pm.

A spokesperson said: “This is a great opportunity for someone who might not have sung with a choir before but wants to give it a try, and will definitely be a fun evening with a warm and welcoming choir. We will be rehearsing Brahms’ Requiem.”

Music will be provided free. For more details email [email protected]

Sue Greenhalgh

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