Messiah, St David’s Hall in Cardiff

B42U3kbIcAA3wfS.jpg-largeFor my second Messiah of the season I made the trip to Cardiff, to sing with the Cardiff Polyphonic Choir at its farewell concert under conductor Neil Ferris.

St David’s Hall was packed with an attentive and enthusiastic audience which roared its approval at the end for the brilliant work by all my colleagues. A great treat to be singing alongside international stars (and local heroes) Rebecca Evans and Matthew Brook, and to be part of tenor Trystan Griffiths‘ first performance of the piece. Baroque period instrument ensemble Réjouissance played wonderfully under its leader Simon Jones and it was a nice surprise to find the leader from last week’s concert in Worcester leading the second violins.

The choir sang fantastically well and I was able to ask a few of them about the fact that they weren’t grouped in voice parts but, unusually, were all mixed up. Everyone admitted that it was more challenging that way, but that for a work that they knew well such as Messiah, it was a great way to raise the stakes for each individual’s contribution. I don’t know that it would work for every choir, but for the Polys it clearly contributed to their excellent, committed performance and it was a great pleasure to be sharing the stage with them.

What a pity, then, to discover that St David’s Hall and the New Theatre are threatened with a withdrawal of subsidy by Cardiff Council, which is seeking to make savings on its budget. In a situation reminiscent of the one Grimsby Bach Choir is in, the Cardiff Polyphonic Choir may find itself without a large-scale performance venue if the hall passes into commercial hands and becomes prohibitively expensive to hire, as seems likely.

A final decision seems to be pending, but it doesn’t bode well for the breadth of cultural activity in Cardiff.