Choir - and audience - meet musical challenge

REFLECTING on the performance of Todmorden Choral Society’s latest concert at St Mary’s Church, musical director Antony Brannick was delighted with the outcome.

“The programming of Benjamin Britten’s dramatic cantata St Nicolas was always going to be a challenge. Despite Britten having written the work in the 1940s, many don’t take easily to his music so I knew that the initial hurdle to get over was an acceptance of the music itself.

“As rehearsals progressed and the music began to come together, the final rehearsal with orchestra and soloist suddenly lifted everything to a new level resulting in a thrilling performance which seemed to get a very encouraging reception from the audience.”

Joining the Choral Society for the concert was tenor soloist Ben Kerslake. The orchestra on this occasion was the Lancashire Chamber Orchestra who, with the addition of percussionists Rhianon Harding and Tim Sawyer, provided a secure foundation for the cantata’s demanding accompaniment. Added to this were keyboard duet players Daniel Bath and Jenny Sheldon. Completing the orchestral side was Anthony Hunt at the organ.

“The singers all performed well and really committed themselves to this work,” said Antony. “An absolute treat was the reliable and secure singing of the Todmorden Youth Choir, who are making a name for their musicality and quality of voices.”

In the first half of the concert the choir performed Stanford’s setting of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in B flat to great effect. Anthony Hunt then thrilled the audience with a lively performance of the Hornpipe from Handel’s Water Music.

A gentle Bach motet followed in which the choir sensitively sang to a gentle organ accompaniment. Finally, the orchestra concluded the first half with an exciting performance of one of the most well-known pieces of music in the whole of classical music – Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik.

The audience revelled in this somewhat rare opportunity to hear this well known work played in live performance.