Madrigal Group Autumn Concert

Emily Fielder lays a finger on the choral pulse of St Andrews as she learns about the Madrigal Group Autumn Concert.


Renowned choral composer John Rutter once said “choral music is not one of life’s frills. It’s something that goes to the very heart of our humanity, our sense of community and our souls.” Even in this small Scottish town, good choral music, the like of which Rutter might be describing, is hardly difficult to find, with numerous concerts being performed by well-established groups such as St Salvator’s Chapel Choir and up and coming talented groups such as the University Chamber Choir. Amongst this vibrant university music scene is the 18-strong student-run University Madrigal Group. Back from its successful summer tour of Scotland and the North of England, including Durham and Edinburgh, the group is putting on its first concert of the year, entitled The Last of the Light at 7.30 pm on Friday 13th October, in St Salvator’s Chapel. What is immediately striking about the group’s choice of repertoire is its variety. It spans from pieces by Dowland, through their favourite Madrigals and Irish and English folk songs, up to 20th Century Russian sacred music. Members spoken to cite numerous different pieces as being the “must-listen-to”, from Rachmaninov’s “Bogoroditse Devo” to Rheinberger’s “Abenlied”, demonstrating the group’s ability to cater to the interests of both their members and their audience. Another important aspect of music making within the group is its familial atmosphere. Even with nine new members this year, the president of the group, Kate James, spoke excitedly about the new sound, saying that “the first time we all sung through “Ubi Caritas” I had a huge grin on my face- not only were the new members so good at picking up the music but the blend sounded absolutely fantastic.” This sense of a MadGroup family is reflected both through their choice of music, as former director Jonathan McNaul’s arrangement of “She Moved Through the Fair” will be included, and in the well-blended sound. Newly elected musical director, Edward Preston-Bell, says that “what binds these pieces together is the cantabile, songful simplicity that we hope will best exhibit the group’s pure and honest sound. With many new members this year, it has proved productive to work on a programme that made us listen attentively to one another as we cultivate the blend the group is so well known for.” If you really needed an excuse to come to this concert, the Royal College of Music Centre for Performance Science recently noted that stress hormones (or cortisol and cortisone) decreased in audience members who listened to a choral concert, whilst their positive mood states (relaxed and connected) increased. At the end of a week where upcoming deadlines are really beginning to hit students hard, a concert such as this appears to come at a good time. All in all, as Ms Jones pertinently put it, “if you want to be moved, humoured and drawn to some wonderful pieces of music on a Friday night then our autumn concert is definitely for you!” Tickets will be available on the door and will cost £5 for the general public and £3 for students.


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