Majestic sounds resonated from the main hall of Sunderland Minster on Saturday (March 28) as An Evening with Elgar took place.
As the performers tuned their instruments and prepared their vocals, a sense of awe filled the hall as images were instantly painted with sound. The crisp and clear sounds were amplified and bounced between the ministers walls, the pews slowly filled up as if it were a typical Sunday morning at church. Images of Sunderland were all around for the audience to see before the concert began, ranging from the concrete industrial buildings to the freedom of the seafront.
The audience watched as the performers took their seats, and a silence fell on the hall, which was almost deafening. As the concert started, the stone columns began to crumble away, transforming the humble minster hall into what felt like a royal court. The attention from the audience was almost trance-like, you could have heard the smallest of regal pins drop. This all created the illusion that the audience were all noble men and women, sat appreciating the talents and skills of the artists. Taken back in time to when Edward Elgar would have been in the same hall.
The three pieces of music named From the Bavarian Highlands, Sea Pictures and The Music Makers all created images of history, pride and unity. The effortless work of the orchestra was versatile and powerful. In one moment soft and light, like to a gentle breeze, but within seconds the soft and light sounds transformed into sounds which boomed and raged through the room like a stormy sea. Accompanying the instruments was mezzo-soprano Sarah Pring whose operatic voice filled the hall, once again making it seem much larger than it actually was. Her focus on tune was so well-practiced that when a member of the audience’s phone began to beep she commented on how it was throwing the pitch of the acoustics off.
As the concert came to an end the applause was the first, and only time the audience made a noise, with one member even raising to their feet to applaud. The only downside of the evening was the uncomfortable pews that, after a while, left you feeling like your back was hunched rather than poised with elegance that the music made you feel. The concert was a beautiful display of talent and history that felt like a time capsule from a royal court allowing us to be the music makers, the dreamers of dreams.