SERENDIPITY - AD MAJOREM DEI GLORIAM
Introduction by Bryn Terfel, Karl Jenkins and Aled Jones:
I first heard Serendipity sing as I watched them win Côr Cymru in 2005. I was struck by their maturity of delivery, the diverse nature of their programming but most of all, by the sheer quality of their sound.
Following this, I invited them to perform with me in a televised concert from the Faenol Festival in North Wales and later in 2005, invited them to sing as part of my Bryn at Christmas concerts to sold-out audiences in the Wales Millennium Centre and the Royal Albert Hall. My association with the choir continues, performing with them this year at the Henley Festival and I very much hope that our collaboration will grow in the future.
Serendipity is one of the best of the new breed of Welsh choirs; young, vibrant, have great panache with an identifiable sound as well as exhibiting impeccable intonation, phrasing and musicianship under their musical director Tim Rhys-Evans. I first heard them at the finals of the 2003 Côr Cymru competition and the performance was hugely impressive; so much so that I invited them to perform at my 60th birthday celebrations at the Royal Festival Hall the following year as well as singing, under Tim’s direction, the choral parts of my Requiem released on EMI Classics. It’s been a privilege to have this association with the choir that I hope will continue and I am thrilled that they have chosen to perform the Benedictus from my The Armed Man: A Mass For Peace on this, their debut CD.
Serendipity is one of the most exciting choirs to emerge in the UK in recent years. A dynamic, full-bodied sound is created by a group of young people who clearly love singing music of all periods, genres and styles together.
Having first heard the choir in Côr Cymru 2003 and subsequently worked with them at Bryn Terfel’s Faenol Festival for BBC Songs of Praise in 2005, I’ve watched, and listened, to the development of this exciting choir with great interest. I’m delighted that this first album with its devotional feel takes the name and sound of Serendipity to an even wider audience.
“Ad Majorem dei gloriam – glorious singing from Wales in music that goes straight to the heart. A superb disc and one whose contents are sure to receive plenty of exposure on Classic FM. And I am not being patronising. Every item here has the strong appeal of directly communicative music from composers who want to involve and move their listeners. Tim Rhys Evan’s Serendipity, just over two dozen strong, sing with all the fervour one expects from a great Welsh choir, with a remarkably wide dynamic range but also with the sophistication which comes from careful preparation and an instinctive feeling for the music’s emotional and spiritual core. The two key items for me are Barber’s Agnus Dei, which at its climax has greater intensity here than any performance I have heard of the string Adagio, and Karl Jenkins’s Benedictus, one of those rare contemporary pieces which indelibly haunts the memory. But there is much else besides. John Rutter of course, and the spirituals, but notably the richly sustained lux aurumque of Eric Whitacre and the thrilling full-throated yet sublimely serene account of Geraint Lewis’s Souls of the Righteous. One notes also the fine organ contribution of Jeffrey Howard, both here and in Mathias’s eloquent piece which gives the album its title. The programme is gloriously framed by the Parrys – Joseph’s quintessential Welsh hymn tune Aberystwyth and Hubert’s stirring anthem I was glad, with its exhilarating “Vivat”. The recording is first class; the notes are appropriately in both Welsh and English. But I wish room had been found for the full texts.
Classic FM magazine
4 stars out of 5!