Thumbs up from Andrew Carter
Composer of Easter Alleluia
Photo by Chris Midgley
Spring arrived just in time for Horsforth Choral Society to mark their 90th anniversary with a varied and dynamic programme of music, showcasing the music and composers of Leeds past and present.
Beginning with contemporary Leeds composer Tim Knight, the choir performed his Benedicite - a chorus of praise to everything imaginable on the earth - with conviction and drama, effectively bringing out the contrasting moods of the text.
HCS showed their versatility with Edward Bairstow’s Lamentations, a refrain based on Anglican chant. Moving nicely in unison through the chords, they painted an emotional picture of the sorrow and hope contained in this simple and moving work.
Solos from choir members proved the wealth of talent available within this group of amateur singers, with beautiful performances of Leeds city organist Simon Lindley’s Ave Maria, Armley-born Samuel Liddle’s Abide with Me and Philip Wilby’s Wondrous Cross. Guest soloist James Gaughan added depth and colour to the poetic Whither Must I Wander, conveying themes of travel and the passage of time with his rich yet whimsical baritone.
After the quieter and more contemplative mood of the first half, the finale of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Toward the Unknown Region was all the more effective. Written early on in Vaughan Williams’ career, the work established him as a new tour de force in English music, and is a rollercoaster ride around his musical genius which is not always easy to pull off. The choir showed their ability to effectively tackle the most technically difficult pieces even after nearly two hours’ singing, bringing out the darkness and light contained in Walt Whitman’s poetry with some skill and much courage.
The Lord Mayor of Leeds, who attended the concert, congratulated the musicians on their versatility. HCS certainly showed that nearly 100 people, giving 100 per cent of themselves, can together achieve mighty forces which are more than the sum of their parts.