Sunday, 31 May 2015

Rob Gardner's Lamb of God, Birmingham Town Hall, 30 May 2015 - A review


30 May 2015 at Birmingham Town Hall, the British Saints Symphony Choir & Orchestra performed Rob Gardner's "Lamb of God", a musical account of Jesus Christ's last days. Having seen this production in Watford LDS Chapel in 2014, my hopes were high. Walking into the majestic theatre, it was a setting fitting of such a sacred event. All was left was to have a performance to match it.

Instead, the audience received a performance of such immeasurable quality, power and emotion that it fully warranted the standing ovation it earned at the conclusion by exceeding all expectations. The music was a wave of tender moments of tragedy to epic crescendos that would cause every hair to stand on end. Whether religiously inclined or not, this was a concert that carried something more than just polished performances. It drew you in. It made you feel like you sat on the fringe of Gethsemane and the edge of Calvary. It was as faithful an account of what happened to not only Christ but those who were present. It was a heart breaking and yet uplifting human account of an extraordinary event.

For Philip Siu and Megan Hodun, the Orchestra and Choir Directors respectively, it marks the culmination of a trilogy of performances that have continued to increase in quality with each recital. Accompanying them was Ally Siu, who took care of all the technical aspects of the show, an aspect that is often overlooked but was utterly flawless on the day. The ultimate accolades rest with them for daring to take on such an endeavour. To have the idea is one thing. To realise it on such a professional scale is an achievement beyond anyone's expectations. 

The orchestra was magnificent. If the entire performance had been instrumental, it still would have been an epic performance. The choir was also incredible. The harmony was glorious. As tragic as the account is, I didn't want it to end. It was a testament to them that I have seen choirs twice their number but never have I heard such collective outstanding vocals. Quality shone through like a dawn breaking beyond the horizon.

Picking out individual performances seems a little unfair, since all the performances were superb. However, Robin Dick's rendition of Peter was wonderful. The sheer power of his voice manifest the torment of the Saviour's chief disciple and Apostle, as he denied his Master three times. Naomi Smith gave a touching and tender performance as Mary, Mother of Jesus. It is important to remember that a mother was watching the torment of her first born son when this happened. Naomi Smith helped us feel that loving pain. No mean feat, even with the quality of the material. All the other soloists were excellent, as were the narrators too.

Jared Govier was given the unenviable task of representing Christ's betrayer, Judas Iscariot. His vocals demonstrated a man who was up to the assignment. He portrayed a man who, despite having sat at the feet of the Lord, had lost his way so easily in a way that you were devastated for his foolishness, yet disappointed in his wicked behaviour. It was a well struck balancing act that is crucial to the account. A beautiful rendition of Martha of Bethany was proffered by Gemma Hatch. Among all the powerful voices, hers came with a gentleness that reminded us of how loved the Lord Jesus Christ was, how he had touched lives in a way that we can't possibly begin to fathom.

Among an orchestra of exquisite quality, an honourable mention should go to Harriet Walker on the cello. The significance of her particular role being that she was representing the Redeemer. It is a highly sacred charge to be entrusted with and she enshrined it with the divine dignity it merited.

Also, I particularly enjoyed readings from Vanya Jones and Nicholas Bridgwater, who conveyed the words with heartfelt sentiment. It only served to enhance a top class concert.

I could run out of superlatives for this. It would be worth it. From the gentle opening to the epic encore, this was a world class show performed by, effectively, amateurs. They performed a concert that taught that one man can do something extraordinary. Their performance proved that a multitude can do something majestic too.

3 comments:

  1. "I could run out of superlatives" - my feelings exactly! Thank you for this informative, vividly descriptive, and well-written review. You have skilfully portrayed the concert just as I experienced it as it unfolded before me as a member of the audience! Well done. So glad Vanya Jones and Jared Govier were mentioned, although they were not principle performers I was particularly moved by their expressive and masterful contributions through the spoken word and song, and felt they added significantly to my enjoyment of the concert as a whole.

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  2. I have not been in the fortunate position to have seen this spectacle, but having read your shining review, I will make sure that if and when the opportunity arises that I may partake of its' magnificence, I will move mountains to be in the audience to enjoy it. Thank you so much for bringing it to my attention.

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  3. I do hope and wish that it was recorded and should be made into a DVD so that many more persons can experience that amazing range of emotions evoked by such a production. Tears, goosebumps and jubilation all in 90 minutes. well done all

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