Choral Mosaic Review: A Powerful and Affecting Evening of Madrigals



The changing season has brought with it the first St Andrews Madrigal Group concert of the academic year and they are, as ever, on top form. The concert - ‘Choral Mosaic’ - showcased the choir’s returning voices as well as giving the new members their first opportunity to sing. You certainly could not tell which ones were which, you simply had to appreciate the beautiful blend of voices.


The set list included a great range of works from different periods both sacred and secular that were united by a common preoccupation with musical patterns and narrative themes. The setlist was centred around the performance of Eric Whitacre’s ‘Sainte-Chapelle’. A modern piece inspired by the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, it describes a young girl entering the chapel and hearing the angels in the stained glass singing the Sanctus. Powerful and affecting, the madrigal demonstrated the best of the choir's voices. For a concert in a setting like St Salvator’s Chapel, ‘Sainte-Chapelle’ was an excellent choice to ground the diverse setlist.


The complete choir performed the whole setlist, the only deviation being Jacques Arcadelt’s ‘Il bianco e dolce cigno’ performed by a quartet of Natalie Klaes, Victoria Lee, Nathanael Fagerson and Laurie Goggin. We were reliably informed of the piece’s saucy meaning which between the misleadingly austere composition and Italian lyrics I’m sure was lost on most. What was not lost, however, was any of the power or control with fewer voices carrying the piece. It was certainly a highlight.


Musical Director Will Thorne conducted expertly and with flourish, bringing out the very best of the choir. His compèring skills were also excellent, managing to capture what made each piece special and relevant and making the whole concert accessible to even the most novice enjoyer of madrigals.


The St Andrews Madrigal Group’s next performance will be their Christmas Concert on the 1st of December at 7:30 in St Salvator’s once again, and I am sure it is not to be missed.


Laura Bennie