The performance of Handel’s Messiah by Harrogate Choral Society is, for many people the beginning of Christmas in Harrogate and it must have been very gratifying for the performers, orchestra, singers, soloists and conductor to perform to an almost full Royal Hall. Equally gratifying was the standard of performance the singers and players gave to the audience.
It was quite splendid with four excellent soloists, Bibi Heal, soprano, who sang with great breadth of tone and sensitivity both in the recitatives and her solos. ‘How beautiful are the feet’ and ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth’ were sung with almost heart-stopping beauty and with graceful phrasing and dynamic. Emma Watkinson, Mezzo Soprano, sang ‘But who may abide’, ‘O Thou that tellest’ and ‘He was despised’ with well-shaped and impressive drama, her voice full of well-controlled tone and delivered with musical excellence.
Luke Sinclair, Tenor sang with a warm and rich voice delivering ‘Comfort ye’ with great musical comfort and ‘Every valley’ with wonderful vitality. This was confident singing which became even more convincing after the interval. Stuart Orme, Baritone was impressively persuasive in ‘Thus saith the Lord’ and ‘For behold. Behold, I tell you a mystery’ and ‘The trumpet shall sound’ demonstrated an commanding excellence of his art.
Manchester Camerata which accompanied this performance were superb. Playing with sheer excellence, it showed a unanimity of musical thought which pervaded every part of this work. The phrasing was delicate and the cadences beautifully shaped. Andrew Padmore conducted with amazing energy, driving the choruses along at brisk tempo.
The Choral Society were simply wonderful, dancing along the semiquavers with such ease and yet controlling the quieter passage with great control and feeling. This was an absolutely splendid and impressive Messiah of which the Conductor and performers should be very proud.
A Gala Night of Opera
14th October 2017 The Royal Hall, Harrogate
"A Fine Evening of Musical Entertainment"
The Royal Hall, home to Harrogate’s Choral Society was well filled by a very enthusiastic audience for the Society’s autumn concert which took the form of a Gala Night of Opera. The Society under the baton of their Conductor, Andrew Padmore and accompanied by the Amici Orchestra presented a fascinating, varied and very attractive programme of operatic arias and choruses.
The Choral Society and Orchestra began with the Procession and Chorale from Die Meistersinger by Wagner, the Society in excellent voice and the Orchestra in fine form. This was followed by a chance to listen to the ladies of the choir producing very fine tone in the Chorus of the Peasant Girls from Eugene Onegin by Tchaikovsky.
Andrew Padmore’s choice of soloists for the evening couldn’t have been better, Sarah Fox, soprano, brought the delights of her voice in the Recitative and Aria, Dove Sono from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro and in Dido’s Lament from Dido and Aeneas by Purcell, the latter sung with much beauty and pathos. John Cunningham, bass baritone, brought a rich and resonant voice to the evening, ideally suited to the surroundings. The Toreador Song was splendidly sung with great verve and panache following which John sang the utterly beautiful O pure and tender Star of Eve from Tannhauser by Wagner with great sensitivity and grace.
The two soloists joined in the ever popular La ci darem la mano by Mozart with just a little acting to make it most effective. The Choral Society, together with members of the Halcyon Singers sang very well indeed – really well with excellent tuning and tone in all voices and the accompaniment from the orchestra was always superb. Marilynne Davies compered the evening with great aplomb and relaxed humour. A fine evening of musical entertainment.