*** DEBUG END ***

Edinburgh International Festival: Queen’s Hall recitals

19 August 2022

William Dundas enjoys several very different performances

© Jess Shurte

Performers in The Book of Life, in Edinburgh

Performers in The Book of Life, in Edinburgh

QUEEN’S HALL morning recitals in Edinburgh can often feel like a cultural champagne brunch setting the mood for one’s festival day.

The BBC Singers, conducted by Sofi Jeannin, sang a varied programme with great expressiveness and precision, in which individual voices were seamlessly blended.

This worked very well in the Mass for Double Choir by Frank Martin and Mendelssohn’s Six Motets, Op. 79, and continued with works by Latvian, English, and Norwegian composers.

The focal point of the second half was an arrangement of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending for violin and choir by Paul Drayton, and expressively played by Laura Samuel. I felt that the sweeping lines of the original had been bloated by the addition of a wordless chorus.

(European première) is a broad title: the content was in fact very specific, and this was a performance of intense storytelling. The Rwandan genocide was explored in the words of the aggressors and the survivors.

The Rwandan artist and activist Odile Gakire Katese founded her Woman’s Cultural Centre, the Woman Drummers of Rwanda, and together they enacted scenes of anguish, bravery, and hope. Her material was harvested from communal chat sessions, after which participants were encouraged to commit their experiences to paper, which thus became The Book of Life.

The play exposes trauma but seeks to archive life: life in recovery, which, in Rwanda, is a constant struggle. There was much to ponder. This is a co-production with Volcano, Canada, and the Edinburgh International Festival.

THE Dunedin Consort and Nicholas Mulroy (tenor) presented a Queen’s Hall recital of great sophistication and eloquence. John Butt directed from the harpsichord and chamber organ with the instrumentalists Huw Daniel and Kinga Ujszaszi (violins), Reiko Ichise (viola da gamba), and Elizabeth Kenny (theorbo). Each of the instrumentalists gave solos of presence and distinction.

The ensemble showpiece was a Trio Sonata by Dietrich Buxtehude. Mulroy’s singing distinguished the occasion. The two undoubted highlights were his performances of Grandi’s “O intemerata” (“O pure and for ever blessed”), serving as the pinnacle of the recital, and Strozzi’s “Lagrime mie” (“My tears”). It was a fitting close to the programme.

Queen’s Hall recitals are available on BBC Sounds for a limited period.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

Forthcoming Events


Church Times Month

March 2024

For the whole of March, Church Times is offering completely FREE online access, so you can share stories without a paywall.

We are also asking our readers to spread the news of the Church Times among their friends, acquaintances, and fellow churchgoers (and non-churchgoers).

Find out more


Keeping faith in Journalism: a Church Times Webinar

11 March 2024 | 6pm GMT

An expert panel discusses trust between the media and the public

Online Tickets available


Church Times/RSCM:

Festival of Faith and Music

26 - 28 April 2024

See the full programme on the festival website. 

Early bird tickets available


Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards


The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)