REVIEW: Dark Sun, Arundel

The picturesque town of Arundel is not only dominated by its magnificent Norman Castle as there also exists a handsome, 141-year-old, nearby Cathedral designed by the Duke of Norfolk's architect, Joseph Hanson, as a suitable counterpart '“ in French-Gothic style!

Thursday, 24th September 2009, 10:33 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 12:35 am

The picturesque town of Arundel is not only dominated by its magnificent Norman Castle as there also exists a handsome, 141-year-old, nearby Cathedral designed by the Duke of Norfolk's architect, Joseph Hanson, as a suitable counterpart '“ in French-Gothic style!

Two of Sussex's most dynamic and enthusiastic musicians have recently combined their many talents, settting up an astounding musical event in this magnificent building, to round off the Arundel Festival.

Clarinettist, Steve Dummer, and pianist/composer, Adam Swayne, had managed to unite many members of local orchestras and choral societies with COMA Sussex (Contemporary Music for Amateurs) and students from Chichester University, in order to bring an overwhelming conclusion to the Town Festival's celebration of 'Arundel Music', by performing six innovative contemporary works, culminating with an awe-inspiring musical account of the atomic explosion which destroyed Hiroshima, in summer 1945, and its horrific consequences.

Adam Swayne resolutely conducted the four entertaining pieces contained in the first half of the concert, concentrating particularly on Instruments and Voices, in which many members of the orchestra and choir were required by local composer, Patrick Harrex, to perform around the nave of the Cathedral, uniting its elegant interior with intense musical expression.

After a short interval, the second half was entirely devoted to two astonishing works conceived by the imaginative composer Steve Montague '“ born in USA, but now living in England. As soon as his ethereal Snowscape commenced, all those present became instantly fascinated by his haunting vision of 'a city locked in winter's white blanket'.

They were then destined to be overwhelmed by his Dark Sun, a threnody for the Japanese city, Hiroshima, destroyed by an atomic bomb in 1945. Under the baton of the composer himself, explosive percussion instantly merged with thunderous high-level organ and the towering spaces of the Cathedral, powerfully expressing the violence and destruction which caused such tragic memories.

Although intriguing radio broadcasts were occasionally relayed into the nave when the orchestral atmosphere became less intense '“ so as to re-create the essential 1945 musical scene '“ the theme once again intensified as passionate choir merged with imaginative orchestral textures, bringing an extraordinary sound-world to a memorable conclusion in this magnificent Cathedral '“ undoubtedly the ideal venue for such a sonic phenomenon!

John Wheatley

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