There’s a reason that the tradition of Evensong is so popular in Durham. Taking forty-five minutes out of your day for quiet reflection – religious or not – is a great way to round off a day, and the healthy congregation size at the Cathedral this evening showed that I am not alone in this belief. The choir comprised of roughly sixty singers from Collingwood, Grey, Trevelyan and Van Mildert College Choirs, directed by Matthew Morgan and accompanied by Peter Swift on the organ.
Swift’s play-in as the choir processed in was skilfully brought to a close by ending on the starting chord of the Smith Responses. The balance of the choir was shown off here in this unaccompanied setting. Tuning and intonation were generally strong and the energy shown through Matthew Morgan’s conducting was also reflected in the sound produced by the choir.
I had not come across Rawsthorne’s ‘Christ is my Cornerstone’ before this evening, but the choir certainly sold it to me. A fantastic organ solo played by Swift set the piece off to a good start and passed the baton over to the choir, with spotless intonation on the unison first verse. A beautifully sustained line by the sopranos and tenors finished off the piece and the echo around the building was certainly a special moment. After a brief period of silence, Swift’s exciting voluntary of Leighton’s Toccata on Hanover from his Six Fantasies on Hymn Tunes brought the Evensong to a close.