Back to choir roots

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On Sunday, April 19, at 7.15pm, Todmorden Choral Society and the Todmorfden Orchestra will perform Mendelssohn’s St Paul.

Tickets will be £8 and £6 for concessions available from choir members and the Todmorden Information Centre, writes John Hodgson.

The soloists will be Bridget Budge, contralto; Caroline Challis, soprano; Adam Magee,tenor and Jon Stainsby, bass. The musical director is Antony Brannick.

This oratorio tells the story of the conversion of Saul, a persecuctor of early Christians, into Paul who became one of the Church’s greatest Apostles. This followed his famous “blinding light” experience on the road to Damascus.

It is a story of religious intolerance and barbarism which still resonates down the centuries to this day in that part of the world.

Mendelssohn uses dramatic and more reflective musical passages to capture the drama of the story. Many of the choruses have been used as stand-alone anthems by choirs over the years. One of these being “How lovely are the messengers”.

“St Paul” was written in 1832 and first performed in 1836. A serendipitous find of a local historic document, by a member of the choir and orchestra, reveals the fact that “St Paul” was performed at the opening ceremony of Todmorden Town Hall in April 1875. The audience both inside and outside the building numbered over 4,000 - numbers which we can only marvel at today.