Venue reviews ‘UEA Choir and Symphony Orchestra: Verdi Requiem’

Dougie and I like to think of ourselves as a pair of fairly cultured swines. When we heard that the UEA orchestra and choir were performing Verdi’s Requiem in town, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to pootle down and soak up some serious classical music. St Andrew’s Hall provided an atmospheric venue, and the event was packed to the vaulted ceiling of this old church.

We were seated opposite the Vice Chancellor which was rather exciting, and though we didn’t manage to get a quote from the man himself, he did seem to be enjoying the performance immensely. The orchestra began with a moving introduction to the concert under the watchful eye of director Tom Primrose, and this built us up wonderfully to the famous ‘Dies Irae’. You’ve heard this one before, it’s the music that they play during dramatic previews on shows such as The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent. This became a refrain throughout the concert, every now and again the choir would erupt into another ‘Dies Irae’, delivering constant goosebumps to our arms.

The soprano, mezzo, tenor and bass were seated at the front of the stage, parallel to the conductor, and their performances were stunning. A personal favourite of mine was ‘Recordare’, sung by the mezzo and soprano. The rich cellos provided the perfect drama behind the interweaving voices. I’m definitely biased, since cellos are probably my favourite instrument, and Dougie can make violins, so you’d need to ask him how impressed he was with them:

‘Very is the answer. We both went to the event not really expecting to enjoy it quite as much as we did, but there’s something spine tinglingly fabulous about listening to a live orchestra. We had good seats too which always helps, complete with a snazzy reservation note: ‘Miss Niamh Jones,’ and ‘Mr Dougie Dodds,’ which made us feel very esteemed. The violinists however quickly became the best part for me. There were a range of ages, from an elderly gentleman at the front who gave it his all in the most dramatic way imaginable, to a man younger than me next to him who made me regret giving up on those violin lessons all those years ago. But behind all of those was another, a man who played at what looked like impossible speeds, all while sitting nonchalantly back in his chair. I was incredibly impressed but even more jealous.’

We spotted a fair few of our friends who had paid for the heavily discounted tickets exclusively offered to students. For a couple of quid, the price of a coffee, you could witness some truly epic classical music. So how about swapping that caramel latte for an evening of spine-tingling music? We encourage you to have a go, especially since this choir and orchestra are mostly made up of UEA students. It’s amazing to see what we get up to between essays, knocking back VKs and chasing rabbits.


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July 2021
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