Lewes-born Lee Reynolds proved again this weekend that he has what it takes to be a great conductor. I was privileged to watch him in action with the Kantanti musicians in St. Alfege Church, Greenwich on Saturday: a real maestro at work. The concert was repeated on Sunday in St. John Sub Castro in Lewes.
The varied bill of fare included a diet of Bach, Vaughan Williams, Albinoni and Vivaldi that enchanted large audiences in both venues.
The first half moved through Albinoni’s Adagio in G minor, Vaughan Williams Fantasia on Greensleeves and onto the Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. Tallis’ theme was sensitively brought out by the ensemble, ably led by Beatrice Philips, also from Lewes.
After the interval, Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 leapt into action, digging us out of the dark, reflective first half and into the light and joy of the second. The energy generated by the ensemble was truly astonishing but the concert continued to get better right up to the end.
The ensemble was joined by the Kantanti Choir for the evening’s finale, Vivaldi’s Gloria. Approximately twenty, mainly local, voices followed Lee’s direction, never letting their diction or sense of rhythm slide, however rapid the timing became. The dotted rhythms and runs of the Cum Sancto Spirito brought the work to a fitting end.
Three amazing young professional soloists joined with Kantanti to sing the solo elements of the Gloria: Jenny Stafford, Kirklees Young Musician of the Year 2010 and Henry Jones, quoted by the Oxford Times as one of the “foremost countertenors of his generation.” They were joined for the first time by another young countertenor from the USA, Kangmin Justin Kim, whose unique sound in the Domine Deus, Rex Coelestis rang in my head all weekend.
Final plaudit has to go to Lee, for bringing together such wonderful musicians to provide us all with such an enjoyable concert experience. Watch out for the next series of Kantanti concerts on the weekend of 25th and 26th August when Lee’s talents as an arranger will be in evidence.