The European premiere of ‘Lamb of God’, a sacred musical work for choir, soloists and orchestra by LDS composer, Rob Gardner, was performed in the Watford Stake centre over the Easter weekend to great acclaim.
Produced and performed by YSA from all over the UK, the production combined a fifty-voice choir led by Megan Hodun (Watford Stake), a forty-piece orchestra conducted by Philip Siu (Hyde Park Stake) and other technical and support crew who gave up their time during the past six months to rehearse for and perform three concerts to almost 600 attendees.
The music describes the ‘Passion’ of Jesus Christ, the final period of the Saviour’s mortal life from His triumphant entry into Jerusalem through to His crucifixion, and His subsequent resurrection and appearances. The story is told from the perspective of those closest to the Lord such as His Apostles.
The Saviour is not played by a vocalist and is represented instead by a solo cello, played by Lucy Smith (Birmingham Stake) who studies Cello Performance at the Birmingham Conservatoire. Vocal soloists included Beth Hippard (Cheltenham Stake) as ‘Mary Magdalene’, Robin Dick (Reading Stake) as ‘Peter’, Montana Ellis (Canterbury Stake) as ‘Mary, Mother of Jesus’ and Nathan Mansfield (Liverpool Stake) as ‘Thomas’.
The choir and orchestra gave a beautiful and moving performance, keeping the story moving at pace but never being intrusive. The music used powerful, triumphant crescendos during moments such as Christ’s noble entrance into Jerusalem yet managed to effectively contrast this during the more poignant, bittersweet, personal and sacred moments, sweeping the audience from triumph to heartbreak during the Lord’s suffering and later betrayal in Gethsemane. The music accurately conveyed the grief felt atop Calvary and then the joy, three days later, as Mary Magdalene discovered the empty tomb and the resurrected Lord.
Many audience members appeared deeply touched by the performances with some later remarking that it had helped them feel the true spirit of Easter.Martin Cook, National Director of Public Affairs for the Church in the UK, who attended the Good Friday performance stated, “This was the first musical production I have ever attended in a chapel with a live orchestra and I can honestly say that I was not disappointed! The young people who formed the choir were superb. They each sang out their testimony of the Saviour of the world, the Lamb of God. The performance was excellent, polished, professional and most inspiring. What added more to the event was the realisation that all of the participants were not recruits but volunteers coming together from across the UK, organising themselves and producing an experience that was a credit to them and a tribute to the Saviour. I believe that musical presentations like this have the power to evoke the spirit and reach out to a wide audience of non-member friends, civic, business and faith leaders, who can not only enjoy fellowship with the saints but have an experience with the Holy Ghost in our chapels.”