The Woodbridge Choral and Orchestral Societies are distinct organisations, though they own one conductor in the person of Mr. H. M. Timbers, an enthusiastic musician, whose work is deserving of encouragement.
On Tuesday evening the Societies amalgamated on the occasion of a miscellaneous concert in the Lecture Hall, which attracted a fairly large audience. The proceedings were characterised throughout by enthusiasm: the performers had their hearts in their work, and made commendable efforts to secure satisfactory results; the members of the audience laid themselves out to enjoy the renderings given, and during the second half the programme became consistently demonstrative. Encores were frequently requested; but the soloists who participated in the miscellaneous part refrained from complying for a reason that was difficult to understand, unless it was that they deemed the performance already sufficiently lengthy.
The early part of the evening was devoted to a version of Cowen's cantata, "The Rose Maiden", the musical excellence of which is so well known that it does not require to be emphasised. It is generally conceded that no work of Dr. Cowen surpasses this cantata for sheer beauty and attractiveness, the successive numbers which it contains being delightfully written. Here it was possible to form an estimate of the chorus, which numbered something like forty. The voices proved of good quality, and at times the tone was admirable. The choristers sang with intelligence and with the best of intentions, some of the effects obtained being entirely praiseworthy. There was not sufficient attention given to the conductor, however, too much close conning of books being indulged in, whilst some of the singers beat time with their scores in a totally unnecessary way. There was considerable faultiness at times. and the attack was not always accurate, whilst unsteadiness marred more than one number. For the most part, though, the interpretations were creditable, and the delightful chorus. "Tis thy wedding morning.” was charmingly given, a portion having to be repeated in response to a persistent demonstration of approval. “’Mid the waving rose trees” was another enjoyable contribution, and the concluding choral portion of the work was happily dealt with, the brightness of the singing here being particularly noticeable. If faults have been indicated in the foregoing comments, it is only for the reason that one recognises possibilities of really excellent results being secured from the chorus, which minimises its shortcomings by keenness of perception and an apparent desire to give the best possible interpretation. Mr. Timbers has some first-rate vocal material upon which to work, and the benefit of his training is already manifest.
The soloists were Miss Lilian P. Swan (soprano). Mrs. Stuart Mackenzie (contralto). Mr. Sidney R. Clark (tenor, St. Saviour’s, Chelsea), and Mr. Charles E. Henry (bass, St. Margaret’s. Westminster). The ladies, who are both resident in the district, sang extremely well, and utilised good voices very capably. Miss Swan excelled in "Bloom on, bloom on", and Mrs. Mackenzie’s most notable effort was “Ask of yon ruined castle.” Mr. Clark made quite the best use of his opportunities with the air, “The sleep of even,” which was artistically treated, purity of voice being a perceptible point of excellence. Mr. Henry was at his best in “Where gloomy pine trees rustle.” The various duets were thoroughly enjoyable, and the trio for soprano, contralto, and baritone, “Hast thou wandered?” was one the best efforts of the evening.
The orchestra played fairly well, considering the nature of its constitution. some of the accompaniments being very good indeed.
In the second part Mrs. Mackenzie sang Teresa del Riego’s “A slave song." Mr. Clark gave Denza’s “A May morning,” Miss Swan inter- preted Clay’s “She wandered down the mountain side", and Mr. Henry followed with Squire's “Lighterman Tom.” all the individual performances being vociferously cheered. The orchestra played the Coronation march from Meyerbeer's "Le Prophete" the ballet music from Schubert’s “Rosamunde,” and Du Bose’s valse “Mondaine." The Schubert work was the best rendered the three.
Mr. W. Crotch and Miss Beatrice Lingley shared the work of accompanists throughout the evening.