THIS was the night the Chapter House Choir went for broke. They headlined the King’s Singers. They unveiled their new Youth Choir. They commissioned a new work from baritone-composer Roderick Williams. It all promised fireworks, but they were a long time coming.

It was fully 148 minutes into the programme before all three groups delivered Everyone Sang, the Williams premiere, conducted by Stephen Williams. The Youth Choir chanted its plainsong-style opening, the fourth stanza of Binyon’s For the Fallen. The Chapter House Choir joined a prayerful setting of Agnus Dei, before the King’s Singers entered the fray in the title poem, by Siegfried Sassoon.

This injected new life, reflecting the metaphor of imprisoned birds soaring free into the setting sun. Williams, as one would expect, has a way with words; so have the King’s Singers. The combination was electric, the effect heightened by the firm underlay from the choirs. The idiom was modal, never far from folksong, but all the better for lacking sentimentality. It faded gently to a nostalgic but reverent close.

Before that, we had no less than 30 amuse-bouches, all individually applauded, all with largely redundant spoken intros. The Youth Choir – 16 teenagers – is shaping up nicely under Charlie Gower-Smith. Its tuning was impeccable and phrasing sensitive, with special rhythmic vigour in a Finzi setting of Bridges, but its diction needs attention.

The King’s Singers ranged slickly from Lassus to Lennon, with two bawdy chansons (plus motets) from the former. There were passing nods to Poulenc and Fauré, before a more or less unrelenting diet of close harmony. Inevitably we had Teddy Bears’ Picnic, the Chapter House’s party piece, and even Shanklin’s parody love-song, Chanson d’Amour, wrily done. Hardly liturgical fare, but then these days anything goes. Or does it?

Martin Dreyer