A respectably numbered audience braved wintry weather to attend Bury Choral society’s first concert of the season at the Bury Grammar School Boys on the first Saturday of December.

The society had joined forces for the evening with the Bury Camerata, a sizeable orchestra largely comprising former musicians from the Royal Northern College of Music. The evenings’ programme was heavily weighted towards Brahms and began with his Tragic Overture given a vigorous and accomplished performance by the Camerata.

Alas, the performance of Vaughn Williams’ delightful lyrical Serenade to Music was seriously marred by a total imbalance in volume between orchestra and choir. Much of the choral work is to be sung quietly, and as a result the chorus was sadly almost inaudible. Only the professional soloist rose above the orchestra; the two volunteer soloist drawn from the choir’s ranks endeavoured validantly but in vain. It did not help that the nearest members of the orchestra were some 15 metres or so nearer the audience that the choir.

The audience left for interval refreshments wondering if they would hear any voices during the second major part of the evening. Our fears were, for the most part, largely unrealised Brahms’ German Requiem enabled the choir to impart much more volume, and conductor Sinead Hayes quietened the orchestra, while in no way reducing its impressive contribution. Although still not perfect, the proportions were much improved.

It was an enjoyable and rewarding experience Brahms was a master of both melody and dynamic expression and full justice was done to the score. There was only one point in the highly complex closing section of Part 3 when all seemed on the edge of unravelling but vigorous wielding of the baton by the conductor held it together.

Soloists Kate Brian soprano, and Mark Rowlinson, baritone, fulfilled their roles with professional competence one would expect.

From the ominous insistent funeral march of Lord, teach me so that I may know my end to the glorious scoring melody of How lovely are thy dwellings Lord the full gamut of the work’s potential was well realised.

The German Requiem is a long and demanding work, but there were no signs of fatigue among singers or instrumentalists, and the audience left into a wintry late evening well rewarded.