I didn’t realise how good The Sixteen were until I saw them performing live. The fact that I could hear the clarity and expression of the words they sang despite the enormous size of St Albans Cathedral was amazing. The Sixteen are a well-known choral group and they performed nine pieces, including works by Byrd, Sheppard and Tallis - three very well-known choral composers.
Before the concert began, the conductor and one of the soprano singers talked about each of the pieces The Sixteen were going to perform. They were extremely enthusiastic about the music and knew all the little details in each piece. This talk was an interesting beginning for the concert.
The concert opened with Sarum Use by Byrd. The Sixteen performed this song well, as they proceeded into the cathedral at the same time as singing. They looked relaxed and experienced on stage and appeared to be enjoying themselves.
My favourite piece of the evening was the second performed - Jesu Salvator Saeculi, Verbum Patris, a piece by Tallis. I thought the soprano singers in this piece stood out the most, as the high notes they sang cut through like a snare drum. When the entire choir sang together the sound created was beautiful. The vast size of St Albans Cathedral magnified the choir’s sound meaning the notes they sang echoed for many seconds after they had finished. This made the singing really effective.
My only criticism would be the choice of music. The lack of a melody did not always appeal to me, although I’m sure it would appeal to many others in the audience. I also couldn’t help noticing that the audience were, on average, about 60 years older than me! In fact my Dad even commented that he looked young in comparison! It is therefore important for younger people to get to know and understand this kind of music so it doesn’t die out.
Even though I wasn’t keen on all the music, The Sixteen performed all the pieces amazingly well with great use of dynamics and expression. I’ve never watched a choral concert before, so it was a new experience and I really enjoyed it. I thought the overall concert was great, as the cathedral created an echo effect and the singing was beautifully in tune. Of course, the amount of enthusiasm The Sixteen showed cannot be captured on CD, so seeing them live was a great experience.
By Elspeth Manders, age 13
Elspeth attended a concert at St Albans Cathedral on 10th April performed by The Sixteen. They are performing around the UK and you can see where and when by clicking here.
credit: Marie-Sophie Willis