Category: Reviews

Review | Music for Queens | March 2016

We were very pleased to receive the following from the congregation at St Mark’s Church, following our performance there of ‘Eternal Source of Light Divine’ – Music for Queens on 5th March 2016.

“A large audience waited in an atmospherically-lit St Mark’s church on Saturday for our Choir Director, Louisa Denby, to conduct her own choir and ensemble, Vox Cantab, and The Rosemary Consort Brass Ensemble, in a cleverly-selected programme of 17th- and 18th-century music. The concert was in three sections: ‘Funeral Sentences and Motets’ by Henry Purcell, ‘Music from the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II,’ and ‘Birthday Ode for Queen Anne.’ The theatrical elements that Louisa had devised produced a dramatic, riveting concert – natural brass and drum in the gallery and around the building, a choir processing elegantly in black for the sacred music, then in lively colours for the coronation and birthday music. Several of the more experienced – and reputedly judgemental – songsters of St Mark’s voted it the best singing they had heard in the church in many a year. A first-class concert by a first-rate choir!”

John Bachelor at the newly-refurbished organ.
John Bachelor at the newly-refurbished organ.

“They began with funeral music written by Purcell. It was composed when he was just 35 years old and I suspect all those creating the music for us were even younger. I had shivers down my spine at the end of the piece. There was a feeling of overwhelming solemnity and sadness, and it seemed right to be in the church where so many funerals have taken place.
“The second half was a glorious celebration of praise and thanks and a complete change of mood, and the wonderful singing and music was presented in a celebration of colour.”

Funeral Sentences and motets - Henry Purcell.
Funeral Sentences and motets – Henry Purcell.

“The concert was exciting to listen to…the singers and musicians showed their delight in all that they did, but we must give the highest award to Louisa…she has such a wide grasp of all that she is doing…her qualifications are remarkable…thank you Louisa for such a glorious evening.”

We are grateful to all at St Mark’s for their assistance on the day of the concert, and for allowing us to present such an event in their lovely church. We intend to take up the invitation to return!

Close Harmony at Lucy Cavendish, Cambridge

Review | The French Connection | Feb 2015

February 2015
February 2015
‘The French Connection,’ St Peter’s Church, Petersfield

‘The French Connection’
Southern Pro Musica & Vox Cantab
Saturday, 21 February 2015
St Peter’s Church

The title of this concert, given by Southern Pro Musica and Vox Cantab, was The French Connection. The large audience were treated to wonderful music by Fauré, Duruflé, Poulenc and Rameau. Vox Cantab, founded in 2010 by Louisa Denby, is a highly accomplished group of current and former choral scholars from Cambridge University. They immediately showed their outstanding musicianship in Poulenc’s four unaccompanied motets for the time of penitence. The settings are homophonic with many finely articulated moods. There are sharply defined dynamic contrasts, phrase by phrase, with bloc-like shifts, which are the hallmarks of Poulenc’s style. The singing had eloquence and the intensity of the music was idiomatic. Duruflé’s four motets on plainsong themes for unaccompanied voices show an astonishing conciseness. They were all sung with love, warmth and precision….wonderful!

Richard Pearce was the exemplary soloist in Poulenc’s exciting organ concerto. The single movement work displays Poulenc’s ability to effect an abrupt change of mood, from high spirits to melancholy, seamlessly. The many contrasting sections, which differ in style, tone and texture were superbly registered by Richard Pearce. This was an exhilarating reading of great fluency and authority and beautifully supported by the strings and timpani of the orchestra.

The main work of the evening was Duruflé’s Requiem. Written in 1947, the layout is based on Fauré’s masterpiece. The work is based on themes from Gregorian chant, but Duruflé skilfully integrates the plainsong with a romantic approach. The chamber version of strings, harp and trumpets was used tonight with great effect. There was a good balance between the sudden outbursts of agitation and the work’s mysticism and warmth. The choir sang ardently throughout with moments of great tenderness – as in the Agnus Dei with the flowing accompaniment of harp and strings – and the passionate outbursts in the blistering Sanctus with its dramatic trumpet calls. The solos were sung with deep feeling and imagination. The Pie Jesu was plaintively sung by the ravishing soprano, Catherine White, and the dark, rich bass of Richard Latham was a joy. This was a deeply expressive, sensitive performance from the excellent choir and orchestra, directed with love and passion by Jonathan Willcocks.

The concert opened with music by one of the great French Baroque composers, Rameau. Southern Pro Musica played movements form his opera-ballet, Les Indes Galant. This attractive work is full of dance numbers which are tuneful, dramatic and imaginative. The playing was light and rhythmic, but I wish the timpanist had used hard sticks to give the performance a little more bite.

Thank you to everyone for an evening of outstanding music making.

Ann Pinhey

A Magical Evening at Chalton Church

“The choir from Cambridge University proceeded to fill this ancient church with angelic and enchanting music. The effect was just breathtaking.  The audience at Chalton Church were privileged to experience a first-class choir that could have performed in a professional venue anywhere in the country.  It was a very special evening that made a deep impression.”
Anne Cleaver (original article)

August 2014 | Services at Portsmouth Cathedral

Services at Portsmouth Cathedral

Director Louisa Denby; Organ Ian Tindale

2014 Cathedral group photo


Victoria – Jesu, dulcis memoria

Haydn – Little Organ Mass (solo Catherine White)

Lassus – Ave verum corpus


Walford Davies – Blessed are the pure in heart

Clucas Responses

Brewer – Magnificat & Nunc dimittis in D

Bairstow – Lord, I call upon thee


Peter Leonard, Residentiary Canon at Portsmouth Cathedral

Fitzwilliam Museum Promenade Concert

We received an enthusiastic response to our concert at the Fitzwilliam Museum in February 2014:

“Last Sunday’s Vox Cantab Promenade Concert at the Fitzwilliam was a triumph! It was so much enjoyed by every member of the audience. There seemed to be something for everybody […]

Your theme and choice of music was beautifully balanced and varied. It takes so much skill to create a good programmme, and once again you have done it. And best of all, the whole choir looked as if they were enjoying singing all those wonderful songs and great arrangements.”

Penelope Robson
Proms Organiser