Sunday, November 11, 2012


Photo: Brian Kelly

ANIMA is a chamber choir and this was their first concert in Clontarf.

They sing a wide range of music and have performed at a number of Dublin venues, including the Peppercannister Church and St. Nicholas of Myra in Francis St.

They were formed in 2008, and in 2011 won first prize in both the Chamber Music and Sacred Music Competitions at the AIMS Choral Festival in New Ross.

Today's venue in St. John's Church on Seafield Road was ideal for their type of music and the church was packed.

Under their conductor, Bernard Sexton, they performed a suite of English folk songs arranged by John Rutter and entitled The Sprig of Thyme. This included such well known titles as The Keel Row, I know where I'm Going and The Sally Gardens, but my own favourite was The Willow Tree which I thought brought out the best in the choir.

They are very controlled, with a wide dynamic range and voices which blend beautifully. I preferred the passages when the full choir was singing to those limited to individual parts.

They also sang arrangements of Ave Verum Corpus and The Stabat Mater by Bernard Sexton, their conductor, and these also brought out the best in the choir.

I wasn't terribly gone on their third item: Two Elizabethan Lyrics by Nils Lyndberg - settings of A Ditty by Sir Philip Sydney and Sonnett XVIII by Shakespeare. To my ear these sounded a bit like test pieces rather than entertainment, but the choir rendered them to perfection.

The piano score in the Rutter suite was innovative and varied and a strong counterpoint to the choir. Accompanist Danusia Oslizlok's stylish rendering provided a neat continuity through the folk songs.

Ray Watson, as compere, blended so well into the setting that I initially thought he was the Vicar until I recognised his voice.

A most enjoyable afternoon and I look forward to the choir's Christmas Concert at the same venue on 16 December (3pm start).

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