Review: TPS March 2024 Concert – Bach Mass in B Minor

What a joy to spend an evening at the Tonbridge School Chapel being serenaded once more by the superb Tonbridge Philharmonic society’s latest rendering, Bach Mass in B minor. What a triumph!  I always look forward to the TPS concerts for I know that I will be entertained, educated and thrilled. The quality of this amateur choir and orchestra is exceptional, one could fool oneself into believing one was at Wigmore Hall listening to professionals. I know that many of their members are indeed professional, and I know that it is led inspiringly by the acclaimed professional conductor Naomi Butcher (whose wonderful choice of repertoire should receive our thanks). Furthermore they are often joined, as they were on Saturday, by a cast of superb professional soloists. However, one must remember and admire the fact that many of their number are indeed amateurs, all be it highly skilled ones. I still feel the goosebumps their rendition inspired. I cannot thank them enough for entertaining me and the rest of the audience so inspiringly. Bravo.

As Joanna Mace informed us expertly in her program notes, the mass in B minor was written at the end of Bach’s life and I think this was evident, as it shows all the well-honed prowess that only a maestro of many years and experience could attain. From the start both choir and orchestra achieved a cohesive balance, attacking the score with skill and energy, each of its members equally skillful.

My particular praise must go to the four exceptional soloists, who at the start of their promising careers, gave us stunning performances one would only imagine long experience Divas were capable of achieving. Kristina Ammattil ,the soprano, wowed us with clear bell like soaring notes that danced dexterously sending our hearts skipping along with it. Eliran Kadussi, the virtuoso counter tenor’s performance was an absolute highlight for me. Sending my heart soaring to the very heavens. What a voice, clear as crystal and as powerful as God’s roar, in contrast to his stature it dominated the Chapel with its brilliance. Jacob Cole , tenor, whose tone reached in and touched our souls with his soothing resonance. Benoit Dechelotte, bass, whose voice rumbled like the growl of God himself, accompanied by the moody oboes of the wind section in” Et in Spiritum Sanctum”.

The Kyrie began with confidence and beauty from the start, promising us an evening that would be hard to forget. My favourite of this section will have to be the “Domine Deus” where the exquisite soprano and counter tenor soloist voices joined by flutes and strings weaved effortlessly a magical tapestry of sound.

Also the sublime “Qui Sedes” where the heavenly voice of Eliran Kadussi, Joined by the oboe, danced a baroque ’gigue’.

To single out more highlights would leave me to list and name each part of the score, as each new section delighted my ears and filled my soul with joy.

Well done Tonbridge Philharmonic for another resounding success!


By Suzy Stone.