St John’s Co-Cathedral makes a splendid setting, as always, for concerts of sacred music and the International Festival of Sacred Music currently being held there started off with a concert mainly featuring Voices Choeur International. This is based in Paris, with members from various countries and conducted by choir director and singer Bonnie Woolley.
(…) The choir sang 16 spirituals, a hymn and Charles Camilleri’s Pacem in Maribus. It must be said that the singing was excellent throughout. This included the participation of a number of soloists, the most impressive of whom was bass-baritone Korre Foster. This detracts nothing from the other soloists who included Dana Westberg, Terry McGinnis, Mark Indorf, Fernande Mboutou Ze, Chantal Dunn and Richard Allen. It is to the credit of all involved that the combined choral singing was very cohesive, sections singing as if in one voice – very crisply phrased and controlled and with a marvellous range of effectively executed dynamics. The sole hymn performed was E.O. Excell’s Amazing Grace, the only work – with Camilleri’s – written by a white composer.
The spirituals ranged widely within the idiomatic parameters of the form and included one of the very few Christmas spirituals, R.M. Carter’s Go Tell It (On) the Mountain. They varied too from Halloran’s very rhythmic Witness, to the hidden message of André Thomas’s Keep Your Lamps; from Christiansen’s rather pert Little David (solo Terry McGinnis) and the aptly agitated R. Jackson’s Look What They Doin’ to Jesus with soloist Fernande Mboutou Ze, four other soloists vocalising and choir. Two of Moses Hogan’s three works performed were the more harmonically daring and modern – My Soul’s Been Anchored (soloist Dana Westberg) and a particularly interesting arrangement of Joshua Fit de Battle of Jericho. Ms Woolley involved the audience in Slettenhaar’s Glory, Glory (solo Dana Westberg) which revived a lot of attention from the by then rather distracted section of the audience. (…)
Albert G. Storace, Times of Malta