‘Ex Cathedra without Jeffrey Skidmore? Perish the thought. The choir’s founder-director, we were told, has never missed a performance in its 46-year existence, so Sunday’s announcement that winter flu had forced him to withdraw came as an unprecedented surprise.
‘His replacement was Paul Spicer, a choral conductor of vast experience and knowledge of the repertoire who, in the limited time available, secured performances that at some levels Skidmore himself might have been proud to own. As a last-minute rescue mission and example of pulling everything together it was a remarkable achievement.
‘The programme was made up of substantial 20th century compositions offset by short pieces from living composers known to Skidmore and his singers. We heard John Joubert and Sally Beamish in sparkling celebratory style, and at the other end of the scale Alec Roth’s Morgenstern used timeless modality to meditative effect, while Katie Trethewey’s floating soprano and the techtonic blocks of close harmony in James MacMillan’s Christus vincit scored high on the tingle factor.’